Traditional boxing is one of the Ngada and Nagekeo’s well-preserved cultural attractions which is passed down through generations. Local people in Soa community call it “Sagi” or “Sudu” while people of Nagekeo call it “Etu” with all of it meaning fight. Being the war exercise for warriors in the old times, it is now also a thanksgiving to good harvest making it a lively celebration with sing-alongs and bamboo music. It is believed that blood drops from the fighters’ bodies mark the blessings for that year’s abundant crop. The match also serves to strengthen communication, brotherhood and kinship among the villagers. Especially the spirit of brotherhood is highly appreciated since there is neither a winner nor a loser of the fight and fighters of the same family are not allowed to fight against each other. Boxers are called Ata Sagi and each one has a Sike – a companion protecting and giving instructions when to strike and defend. The referee, Dheo Woe, ensures that the match runs fairly.
Unlike modern boxing, the players wear special gloves named Ta’i Kolo. They are made of palm fiber rod sticks held together with palm tree gum that forms a hard clot (sometimes glass flakes areadded). A cloth is then wrapped around until the size of an adult fist is reached.
These traditional boxing matches are held in almost all places of the Ngada and Nagekeo tribe starting in April and ending in July. Spectators or guests are welcome to participate and box as well. You can plan your trip to include in this local annual event. Stick with us to get deeper understanding of this ritual.