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Winners are paraded around the ring, gathering accolades and being showered with small bank notes by spectators. The government is seeking to outlaw the custom, called “spraying,” — saying it degrades Nigeria’s currency, the naira.

While there’s no official dambe circuit, repeat winners sometimes find rich patrons. Popular boxer Muhammad Dantagaye, retired now at age 32, says he was given a motorcycle after one win and had his Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca paid for by a wealthy fan.

There are other rewards. “If you win, the girls will want to be close to you,” he says. “Some may be frightened, but others know you’re a champion.”

Back at the arena, the crowd is irritable after a few unexciting bouts. Then, Mr. Danjega enters the ring, teammates clapping him on the back.

After some ineffectual sparring, Mr. Danjega charges. He lands a roundhouse right on his rival’s face, rocking the man on his heels. A few kicks to the midsection and another haymaker, and the foe is flat on his back in a cloud of dust.

Mr. Danjega falls to his knees with his arms in the air, screaming with glee as the crowd roars approval.