A combat sport is a physical sport involving two individuals in one-on-one combat under specified rules. These sports have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. And they provide an opportunity to showcase physical prowess, endurance, and tactical abilities.
Recently, the popularity of combat sports has soared worldwide due to the entertainment they provide. This is evident in the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which is more or less the face of combat sports. Today, MMA is regarded as the fastest-growing sport globally.
The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), MMA’s major event, garners huge worldwide viewership, coverage from several mainstream media outlets, and massive betting action. Besides betting on the MMA, sites like Parimatch also allow you to play your favorite online slots for real money.
Interestingly, Bangladesh has joined this wave in recent years, as the combat sports scene in the country is gradually thriving with a diverse range of sports and talented athletes. Hence, this article will explore the history, types, organizations, and future of combat sports in the country.
History of Combat Sports in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a rich culture in indigenous combat sports. This can be traced back to ancient times when the Bengali people practiced traditional martial arts such as Lathi Khela, Boli Khela, and Butthan. These forms of martial arts were mainly used for self-defense, tax or debt collection, duels, and physical conditioning.
Traditional Combat Sports in Bangladesh
Let’s examine each of Bangladesh’s indigenous combat sports below.
Lathi Khela is a traditional combat sport in Bangladesh. It involves fighting with a long bamboo stick called a lathi while avoiding getting hit. The sport is a combination of physical strength, agility, and skill. Although its popularity has waned today, it is still played during festivals and cultural events and is a popular form of entertainment in rural areas of Bangladesh.
Boli Khela involves two wrestlers grappling with each other in a circular pit filled with sand and clay. The objective is to throw the opponent onto their back or force them out of the pit. Boli Khela is often performed during festivals and is seen as a way to showcase strength and skill and a form of self-defense. Today, a major boli khela event is organized annually in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh every April, attracting several Bangladesh viewers and tourists worldwide.
Butthan involves a combination of wrestling, boxing, and grappling techniques. The goal of the sport is not to defeat an opponent but to subdue them without causing harm. It is considered the art of building physical and mental strength, discipline, and character. Today, the sport has been approved in Bangladesh by the National Sports Council (NSC) under the Ministry of Youth & Sports.
Popular Combat Sports in Bangladesh Today
Besides the indigenous ones that have always been known in the Bangladesh, modern combat sports gained popularity during British rule in the 19th century. Boxing and karate were introduced to the region by the British, and they quickly became popular among the locals.
In recent years, Bangladesh has seen a rise in the popularity of foreign combat sports such as boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts (MMA). These sports have gained a following among men and women, with gyms and training facilities popping up nationwide. The success of Bangladeshi athletes in international competitions has also contributed to the growth of combat sports in the country.
Let’s examine some popular combat sports in Bangladesh below.
Boxing is gradually gaining popularity in Bangladesh as the Bangladesh Boxing Federation (BBF) has been working hard to promote the sport. The sport is also part of the South Asian Games, where Bangladesh has won some medals over the years.
One of the recent developments in the boxing scene is the tri-nation boxing night named “The Ultimate Glory,” hosted in Dhaka in May 2022. This event was the first-ever international professional boxing event in the country, an astounding progress in the sport’s growth. It featured 14 boxers across the three nations, two from Nepal, one from India, and 11 from Bangladesh.
Kickboxing has emerged as a popular combat sport in Bangladesh in recent years. It combines elements of traditional boxing with martial arts kicks, making it a dynamic and exciting sport to watch and participate in. The Bangladesh Kickboxing Federation (BKF) has been actively promoting the sport, organizing competitions and training camps to develop new talent.
Karate is a martial art that originated in Japan and involves various techniques like punching, kicking knee strikes, and open-hand techniques. The art emphasizes discipline, respect, and perseverance and has grown popular in Bangladesh, gaining a solid following among men and women.
The Bangladesh Karate Federation has been promoting the sport, organizing tournaments, and producing talented karatekas who have represented the country in international competitions. Bangladesh has also participated in numerous multinational Karate competitions and won seven gold medals at the South Asian Games.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has gained popularity in Bangladesh over the past decade. It is a combat sport that combines techniques from various martial arts, such as kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and boxing. MMA competitions are organized in Bangladesh by organizations such as the Bangladesh MMA Federation (BMMAF) and the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).
Other popular combat sports gradually thriving in Bangladesh include judo, taekwondo, Muay Thai, etc.
With the introduction of boxing and the subsequent rise of other martial arts, Bangladesh’s combat sports scene has evolved into a diverse and thriving sector. The future of these sports in the country looks bright, with increasing interest and athletes’ success on the international scene.
As these sports continue to gain popularity, we can expect to see more training centers and gyms opening up across Bangladesh, offering a variety of classes and programs for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. We can also expect the country to participate in more national, continental, and international tournaments. This will provide more opportunities for people to learn and practice martial arts, helping the country become a significant force in the global combat sports scene.