by Rachel Ogbu
Nigeria’s Ram Fighting, one of the country’s most popular animal spectator sports was recently filmed by online channel, BattaBox.
The original Ram-Fighting game in Lagos consists of six weeks of horn-to-horn battles between the country’s angriest sheep and attracts fans from all works of life including tourists.
According to BattaBox, this was definitely not a case of animal cruelty. “If there is ANY injury (however small) – the fight is stopped immediately – this ‘headbang fighting’ is simply what Rams do in the wild … These guys look after their rams very well o!”
Modun Adoreyin, BattaBox reporter ran a hilarious commentary on the sport and interviewed fans.
“Can’t you see the rams are fighting – do you want them to hit me? The white one is called Boko Haram, while the black and white ram is called German Machine of Lagos Island!” says reporter Odun, as she runs a safe distance away from the two Rams. “Bye! Bye! I don’t want them to hit me!”
Watch video of Ram Fighting in Nigeria (+outtakes!) …
According to more reports, to win, a Ram must scare its competitor into running away from the next battle – and so scenes of a Ram turning tail and fleeing the arena is greeted with cheers from the audience.
The rams are organised into weight categories – from light-weight to heavy-weight – and the size difference can be quite dramatic, with the largest as high as a grown man’s waist. Training is essential explains one Ram owner:
“It’s always good to give you Ram a good roadwork, whether small or big Ram. The reason you do roadwork is because it energises you – it gives your Ram long breath.”
Although football is the most popular sport in the country, traditional Nigeria sports such as Ram Fighting and Dambe Boxing or Wrestling retain a considerable following across the country.
Run by the ‘Ram Lovers Association of Nigeria’ – competitors come from across the country, although it is mostly concentrated in the South-East. Each Ram has its own name, such as ‘Destroy’, ‘Boko Haram’ or ‘Obasanjo’ and the victors of the fights win prizes such as money or generators.
“I’m not a Ram lover or a Ram owner – but I’m finding the fight very, very interesting!” says one man in the audience watching for the first time.
The current national champion of 2012 and 2013 is called ‘Argentina’ – “It’s good to be the national champion,” says the owner. “He’s not all that friendly, he can hit you anytime!”