Friday, August 30, 2019

No Holds Barred: Maxwell Kalu on African Warriors Fighting Championship 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Maxwell Kalu, founder and CEO of the African Warriors Fighting Championship.

The African Warriors Fighting Championship is Africa's first multidisciplinary fighting organization.

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, the African Warriors Fighting Championship showcases warriors competing in indigenous African styles of combat sports such as Dambe, which is a form of boxing popular in West Africa, and traditional wrestling.

After a debut event in April, their next event, called "The Battle for Lagos", is scheduled for September 14 at the Jalisco Stadium, Oshodi, Lagos. A third event is also planned for December.

We spoke with Maxwell Kalu by Skype Thursday.

After speaking with many people already involved in the combat sports in Nigeria, rather than trying to import MMA, Nigeria's indigenous sports like wrestling and Dambe "are here already," he said.

"There's such a rich culture of them, and rather than be the sort of poor African cousin of the UFC, of ONE, or of Cage Warriors, or whatever, I'd thought, I'd love to do something totally, totally different that really speaks to the uniqueness of Africa, starting with Nigeria, and really plays to our strengths," he said.

With hundreds of athletes already competing in Dambe and wrestling, the decision was made to showcase these athletes and styles.

We discussed how his background in the combat sports and Nigerian heritage influenced him getting involved in this, the large amount of talented athletes already competing in these traditional combat sports in Nigeria, and how Nigeria plays a key role in Africa in terms of culture and media.

Also we discussed the rules for Dambe, which allows punching with one hand, the back hand, which is wrapped, and kicks and sweeps. A knockdown ends the round in these three-round fights. For wrestling, a round ends when someone's back touches the ground from a takedown or throw, also in three-round matches. All the competition takes place on sand.

The African Warriors Fighting Championship is working with the Traditional Sports Federations in Nigeria and in Lagos State to regulate their events.

We also discussed the plans for the upcoming events in Lagos, their critical use of social media, the growing interest in this group by international media, how they are working to the point where anyone can watch their events live, and much, much more.

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