Shocking pictures have revealed a glimpse into the mostly hidden world of a brutal Nigerian sport known as Dambe.
The sport is like boxing but without protection. Opponents choose their strongest hand and wrap it in hard rope.
Their other hand is meant to act as a shield. Until recently, competitors were allowed to dip the hard rope in resin and even coat it in shards of glass.
That practice is now illegal but the sport is still deadly. And knocking your opponent out is even known as ‘killing’ them.
The ancient tradition is usually practiced by Hausas in the north of Nigeria but it has spread to southern areas as well.
Dambe fighters in Lagos battle on the beach under floodlights while jumbo screens replay them for audience members who are far away.
The way to win the fight, which is centuries
old, is by punching and kicking your opponent until they fall down.
The tradition is entrenched among butcher caste groups and is very heavily focused on communities. The sport started from clans of butchers travelling to different villages at harvest and fighting those from the area as part of the festival entertainment.
Butchers come from a lower caste of Hausa society – they are the only ones who could ritually slaughter animals and handle meat. They would form teams from the village – known as armies – and challenge men from other butchers guilds, as well as locals from the audience.
Nowadays, that sense of team is still very strong, and the sport is still dominated by the butchers’ caste, but competitors will often be very young – teenagers who train in gyms and yards – and will fight all year round, MailOnline reports.