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Hope for Sambo Sports In Nigeria as celebrated sports administrator pledges to promote its growth

The combat sport of Sambo is relatively unknown to many people in Nigeria compared to others in the Martial Arts category. SportsRation reports.

However, it holds great potential for Nigerians of all age groups and for the country itself if efforts and resources are channeled towards its development.

Lagos-born sport administrator, Sheriff Hammed, recognizes this potential and is determined to harness it for the benefit of athletes and other Nigerians.

As the Chairman of the Lagos State Judo Association (LSJA), Hammed transformed the landscape of martial sports in Lagos by revitalizing Judo, which earned him recognition from the International Association of Combative Sports (IACS) as the Joint Secretary (Africa).

Hammed, who will lead Nigeria’s team to the 13th African Games in Ghana next month, has taken it upon himself to promote Sambo across the nation and beyond.

“Our plan for Sambo is to provide an experience that offers a plethora of benefits to the sports industry in Nigeria and participants,” Hammed revealed. “From creating a case for improved facilities to enhancing mental and overall wellbeing, providing opportunities for recreation and youth engagement, improving the education experience of students, brand engagement, and more. We want to influence the entire sports value chain in the country by showcasing Sambo as a platform for sport development.”

Acknowledging the challenges ahead, Hammed noted, “There is often the misconception that sports is mostly about attending competitions, both locally and abroad, but sports goes beyond this.”

He continued, “Regarding facilities, for instance, there are current facilities that are underutilized. This is due to no particular fault of anyone, but international global practices now show us that a sports facility can be multi-purpose and adaptive.”

Hammed emphasized the multidimensional nature of Sambo, stating, “Sambo is a multidimensional martial art, combining gymnastics, wrestling, boxing, and judo/jiu-jitsu. So, with the development of Sambo, we are positive this will also influence the development of the sports mentioned above.”

Furthermore, Hammed highlighted the role of Sambo in promoting fitness and recreation, stating, “With the growing demand for fitness and recreation, we want to offer Sambo as a step into fitness and recreation. Sambo improves the fitness of participants.”

In conclusion, Hammed outlined the comprehensive approach to popularizing Sambo, focusing on socioeconomic needs and collaborations. He emphasized the importance of addressing societal challenges and harnessing the benefits of sports beyond competition.


Sambo is a relatively modern martial art that traces its origins back to the early 1920s, when it was developed by the Soviet NKVD and Red Army to enhance the hand-to-hand combat skills of their servicemen. The primary objective was to amalgamate the most effective techniques from various martial arts disciplines.

The pioneers of Sambo were Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Oshchepkov had spent several years residing in Japan, where he trained in Judo under its founder, Kano Jigoro. However, Oshchepkov tragically died in prison during the Great Purge after being accused of espionage by the Soviet government. Consequently, Judo was banned in the USSR for several decades until it was reinstated for the 1964 Olympics, where Sambists (practitioners of Sambo) secured four bronze medals.

Spiridonov and Oshchepkov independently developed distinct styles of combat, which eventually converged and evolved into what is now recognized as Sambo. Oshchepkov’s system, referred to as “free wrestling” in Russia (known as catch-as-catch-can wrestling or catch wrestling in the West), was characterized by its toughness and intensity. In contrast, Spiridonov’s approach was gentler and less aggressive, partly influenced by injuries he sustained during World War I.

Anatoly Kharlampiev, a disciple of Vasili Oshchepkov, also played a significant role in shaping the development of Sambo. In 1938, Sambo was officially recognized as a sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee, marking a pivotal moment in its institutionalization and dissemination.

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