Muscular Women Now Making Waves in Male-dominated Local Wrestling, Dambe

“What a man can do, a woman can do better,” says Khadija Kaduna, a female wrestler making waves in a male-dominated local wrestling locally known as Dambe.

The brawny lady told TRT Afrika that watching men play the Dambe awed and inspired her. “I am a strong woman and capable of what men can do, that is why I was brave enough to join,” she said. “My wish is to succeed in every contest I participate in and always possess the zeal to pursue this career.”

Dambe is a form of traditional martial art predominant in West Africa among the Hausa tribe. For a long time, the sport has been preserved for men only. However, changing times proved that women can also partake in wrestling.

TRT Afrika featured Khadija and one other Faty Alanta who rehearsed what it looks like when a woman wrests.

Faty Atlanta seems brawny than Khadija. She says the danger of the game would not scare her away.

“It is a dangerous sport,” she noted. “Sometimes you either kill or be killed. Other times, you could lose a tooth or get your face damaged.” 

In her opinion, she is too strong to be beaten up by a man.

“A man cannot beat me and go scot-free. I can punch well. It is better and I demonstrate my bravery and revenge.” she added.


Dambe is dominated by Hausa fisherman and butcher caste groups. The local wrestling developed from clans of these professions travelling to farm villages around harvest time, incorporating a fighting challenge by outsiders into local harvest festivals.

It was also traditionally practised as a way for men to get ready for war, and many of the techniques and terminology allude to warfare. 

Today, companies of boxers travel performing outdoor matches accompanied by ceremony and drumming, throughout the traditional Hausa homelands of northern Nigeria, southern Niger and southwestern Chad.

The sport has received mainstream attention from Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development as its Minister, Sunday Dare pledged in December 2019 to create a national league plus cooperate with the Dambe Sports Association to form a federation for organizing competitions and tournaments across and outside Nigeria. Plans were already underway before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in early 2020.

The minister, at press time, had not responded to WikkiTimes’ enquiry.


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