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Igbo Wrestling (2/2)

The significance of Mgba in Igbo culture transcends its relevance as a local pastime. In earlier times, during seasons when farming was not as intensive, the art served as an important uniting mortar which brought people together to socialize, interact, and recognize the heroes amongst them. Young male children learned of the importance of valor and self-defense, values which their society highly-emphasized, and aspired to become rigid in the face of life’s obstacles and challenges. Many Igbo societies employed Mgba as a rite of passage into manhood, while others utilized it as a bloodless means of settling disputes and wars. In many cases, wrestling tournaments were held amongst suitors to select the best spouses for highly desirable maidens, as champions were proven capable of defending their wives and families. Today, however, the popularity of this sport is waning, as the lifestyle shift effected by westernization has resulted in fading interest and participation amongst youth.



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