top of page


Houssa was a medieval state locate in what is now Nigeria.The Houssa were famous for their butcher boxers.Hugh Clapperton while exploring West Africa during 1823 along with Major Denham, requested to see a boxing match. Here is the account :





 Boxing in Houssa, like wrestling in Bornou, forms a favourite exercise, and the grand national spectacle. Mr. Clapperton, having heard much of the fancy of Kano, intimated his willingness to pay for a performance, which was forthwith arranged. The whole body of butchers attended, and acted as masters of the ceremonies; while, as soon as the tidings spread, girls left their pitchers at the wells, the market people threw down their baskets, and an immense crowd was assembled. The ring being formed, and drums beat, the performers first came forward singly, plying their muscles like a musician tuning his instrument, and each calling out to the bystanders,—" I am a hyena; I am a lion; I can kill all that oppose me." After about twenty had shown off in this manner, they came forward in pairs, wearing only a leathern girdle, and with their hands muffled up in numerous folds of country cloth. It was first ascertained that they were not mutual friends; after which, they closed with the utmost fury, aiming their blows at the most mortal parts, as the pit of the stomach, beneath the ribs, or under the ear: they even endeavoured to scoop out the eyes; so that, in spite of every precaution, the match often terminated in the death of one of the combatants. Whenever Mr. Clapperton saw the affair verging to such an issue, he gave orders to stop; and, after seeing six pairs exhibit, paid the hire and broke up the meeting.




source : Narrative of Discovery and Adventure in Africa, from the Earliest Ages to ...By Robert Jameson, James Wilson, Hugh Murray, pg 165-66, 1833

bottom of page