Traditional Boxing of Ngada & Nagekeo

Traditional Boxing or locally known as Etu or Sagi is one of the most famed cultural festivals of the Ngada and Nagekeo district. If you’re in Flores in the months of April through July, then take a visit to the Soa or Tadho Village to view this fascinating local tradition.

Photo Courtesy of Flores Tourism

In the past, this activity was a form of exercise for the warriors, and today it is a celebration of thanksgiving and hopes for good harvests. It is also symbolic for good communication, friendship and kinship among villagers. In traditional boxing, there are no winners or losers and members of the same family are not allowed to fight. Instead of gloves, fighters wear woven palm leaves as boxing gloves, sometimes with bits of broken glass attached. Each boxer has his own coach who directs him on his next actions during the fight.

Ngada and Nagekeo is one of the oldest regencies in Flores. Formed in 1958, it was later split into two in 2007, forming the Nagekeo regency. There are a few megalithic sites in this region, which are tentatively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The capital city of Ngada and Nagekeo is Bajawa, with a total population of about 44,000. Bajawa is also home to some natural hot springs that are suitable for bathing and breathtaking views of the valley and the Inierie Volcano. Bajawa has two minor airports that connect it to the rest of the island; the Bajawa Soa Airport and the Bajawa Pahdamaleda Airport.

Here in these districts you’ll find eye-catching ancestral shrines, impressive megalithic formations and rich ceremonies which are all integral part of the societies that live in these two districts. There are rituals and ceremonies for almost every important occasion, which visitors are most welcomed to attend and witness.

Not typically called “boxing”, this sport goes by a different name in every region; Etu in Boawae, Sagi in Soa, or Mbela in Riung. These events are held periodically on certain dates and move from one village to another.

Kicking are strictly not allowed during a boxing match and interestingly, every drop of blood anticipates an abundance of future harvests. This means the more blood that is shed, the better it is for the villagers. Spectators are welcomed to watch and those who are daring enough can join the fights in the arena.

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