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In the Wikipedia article on the african martial art Dambe, it said that "often the lead leg is wrapped in a chain", making this brutal martial art even more brutal.

Looking at Google Images, I couldn't find any evidence of this practice.

How often this practice really used?

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  • Excellent question. I've found other references to the lead leg having chains, or a chain-like material, wrapped from knee to ankle, but indeed, I've yet to find an image or video showing it. Aug 24, 2021 at 12:30

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After extensive research, I found some enlightening pieces of information thanks to GoogleFu.

The only written and half-decent source I could find is an article by Thomas Green from 2005.

There, we have this bit:

Traditionally, the lead leg (the left in the case of a right-handed boxer) was wrapped by a chain extending from ankle to knee. Known as akayau, this could be used as a weapon when kicking. Nonetheless, kicks could be executed with either foot. Although the use of the akayau has been abandoned in contemporary Dambe boxing, Carambe notes that there is still a preferred kicking leg that is often wrapped in cloth for protection. (bolded mine)

That is, there used to be the practice of wrapping the lead leg in a chain, just as there used to be the practice of dumping the fist into some sticky stuff and glass shards. These traditional practices have been abandoned, especially since Dambe is popularised and developed into a national martial art. The fact that there are no pictures of this practice again strengthens the point that abandonment of practice and popularisation came hand in hand. Also, I actually found some pictures of the lead leg having some cloth protection, so the information seems to be valid.

The source of this information is an email conversation of the author with "Carambe", which just means "fighter" and refers to some Ibrahim Yahuza (see endnote 1 and last source).

As for how that got its way into the Wikipedia article: No idea. Since it was part of the original article of 2007 and never got revised, I would say it was a bad transfer of information from the article cited here, omitting the "traditionally" and "abandoned" parts. Other mentionings saying the same are post 2007 and seem to be either direct copies or paraphrase of the Wikipedia article.

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  • Hmm... and honestly, the "dipping gloves into glass" thing sounds a lot like the legend for Muay Thai, which has a number of people claiming it's as mythical as the tales of capoeiristras gripping razor blades between their toes while fighting. Aug 26, 2021 at 15:44
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    @MacacoBranco Possible, but the informations are scarce and there are people claiming it had to be explicitly ruled out as a practice in Dambe, so there's that. Aug 26, 2021 at 16:10

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