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Sunday, January 26, 2020

No Holds Barred: Maxwell Kalu on the African Warriors Fighting Championship in 2020 


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

We spoke with him by Skype Friday.

The African Warriors Fighting Championship made its debut in 2019 with three events, all in Nigeria, featuring traditional wrestling and Dambe, a style of boxing popular in West Africa.

"It's been a real ride," he said.

"I have to remind myself every now and again that's it's not even been a year. We launched in April, so still less than a year in, but really happy with the progress we've made so far," he explained.

"We ended the year with a bang. We did our biggest event to date, which was 'Coronation of Kings'. That was a real big moment for us, in that the goal of that event was just taking traditional sport in Nigeria to a different level, delivering a new level of event in a different setting, and for us, capturing content of a better quality and producing more of it. The event went really well. We're really happy with how it went.

"Just looking back at 2019, we're really happy with the year. So, so far, so good."

But as a relatively young organization, for the African Warriors Fighting Championship there is still much basic work to be done.

"A big part of what we had to do and what we continue to do is just tell people what we are and what we're doing," he said. "People in the U.K., people in the U.S., they're a world away from Nigeria, they're a world away from Africa. So the starting point really is just building awareness, having people understand that this rich culture of combat sports exists in Africa, and having people understand that African Warriors as an organization is taking it to new heights."

We discussed how 2019 involved a lot of testing of how to run events, the growing response from the African diaspora in the U.K. and the U.S., and the keen interest in both the general media and the combat sports media in many countries.

For 2020, the focus "for now" will still be on Nigeria. An announcement is expected soon on plans for the first event of the year, which will again be in Lagos, Nigeria.

This new year the African Warriors Fighting Championship will be building "a national network of athletes" across Nigeria. We also discussed that there will be more events in 2020 than in 2019, that the quantity and quality will improve, that more videos will be produced and released, some of the challenges of running events in Nigeria, the rulesets for wrestling and Dambe that are used, and much, much more.

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