The Insane Combat Sports You’ve Never Heard of

by E. Reid Ross

Do you think boxers are cowards for using those sissified padded gloves? Do mixed martial arts impress you about as much as a mixed salad? A mixed salad with imitation bacon? Well cheer up, carnage enthusiast, because there are some combat sports out there that are perfectly capable of satisfying the bloodlust of a mayhem seeker like yourself. Here are a few options to tide you over through your house arrest for that cockfighting conviction, and which should in no way violate the terms of your parole.

Nigerian Dambe

Most modern fighting competitions require that the participants wear some sort of hand covering to act as a protective cushion in an attempt to reduce undue knuckle shattering and facial mangling. Boxers in Northern Nigeria wear gloves too, but the safety aspect in their version is about as effective as a nail bat.

That’s not an exaggeration. Before facing off in the pit, practitioners of the martial art of Dambe may wrap one leg up in a metal chain. The next step is to cover one hand up with a cloth and coil it over with tightly knotted rope, creating an effective bludgeoning tool referred to in the sport as the “spear” (seen here.) The other hand, called the “shield,” is simply the fighter’s open palm which serves as his only defense against incoming blows from the improvised rope-mallet. To enhance the destructive potential of the “spear” hand, Dambe fighters have been known to dip the rope in resin and broken glass. Others might have a “mazagi,” which is essentially a sharpened spoon, affixed to and protruding from the knuckles.
In order to become proficient in this type of fighting in the U.S., you first need to obtain a felony conviction.

In order to become proficient in this type of fighting in the U.S., you first need to obtain a felony conviction.

Here’s what they look like when fully kitted out in the complete murder kaboodle. When you top that off with a healthy dose of (perfectly legal) kicking and head-butting, it should come as no surprise that these guys tend to get killed on a pretty regular basis. Just ask “Horror,” a Dambe champion who can attest to the brutality of the sport. But although he admits to the occasional crippling injury and loss of life, he claims that “in spite of the danger associated with it, I still cherish it over and above any other job one can give me to do.” It’s nice to see that Mr. “Horror” seems to enjoy his work and is putting a pleasant spin on things, but with a name like that it’s not like he’s going to have a lot of options in the customer service field either.

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