Ram fighting is a blood sport between two rams with the same weight category held in an open field. It’s a common culture in African, Asia and some parts of Europe. In Nigeria, it’s becoming a popular animal sport across Lagos. It keep Gaining popularity because of the contain publicity on radio during tournaments and club membership of participants.
Although categorized as a blood sport and an act of animal cruelty, ram fights rarely resulted in the death of the defeated ram, as the loser often is allowed to flee the arena.
Rams are male bighorn sheep and often settle arguments with fights that include ramming their heads into others. They are typically 5 to 6 feet tall (1.5 to 1.8 meters) from head to tail, and weigh 262 to 280 lbs.
With various weight categories and referees just like boxing, The Ram Lovers Association of Nigeria (RLAN) and Ram Owners Association (ROA) are working to bring ram fighting into the mainstream by enforcing a strict set of rules to ensure ram safety and fair play with the believe that rams are like any other athlete making sure that the safety of the rams are key priority to the owners and the association, RLAN is the body that regulates and controls competitions in Oshodi, while ROA hosts major events at National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Intimidating names are given to them based on historical values from warrior or devastating diseases that hit the country at diverse times. Names as Attila the sun, Spartacus, Otiyanya of Ifako, Sledge Hammer, Bawala, Imole, Rude Boy, and Odua of Shagamu. Omolomo, Eje Afin, Sara, Kokoro Machine, Ebola, Malaria are common place.
The ram fighting rules state that at the start of a tournament, rams are allowed to hit 30, 70 or more “blows” before the referee calls a tie. It is dependent on the ram strength and agreements with the ram owners.
Most of the ram owners and fans see it as an escape getaway from stress and an avenue to have fun especially for those that can’t afford the endemic lifestyle. Hundreds of people always gathered under a blazing sun to watch the rams fight on a sandy pitch, fenced off with rope.
At stake is a plethora of official prizes ranging from cars, Electricity, generators, to bikes, and some other lucrative items, However, it’s the gambling on the sidelines where men bet tens of thousands of Naira on rams.
During the time of this documentary, I had witness winners go home with millions of Naira where owners amid laughs and jeers from the crowd, losers frown and expects to win next time.
After football, this is another sport that brings people together from various part of Lagos state.
The project was documented by Christopher Onah a documentary photographer based in Lagos, Nigeria.