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Musangwe – Ring of Lies

29 June 2021
Bare-knuckle African boxing on Ring of Lies

The best thing about telling African stories must be the ability to paint our age-old realities into modern existence, without them looking out of place or desperate to be seen.

One of Novela Magic’s newest offerings, Ring of Lies, has done this with an ancient form of South African boxing called Musangwe. When we're introduced to Neo, a budding boxer from rural Limpopo, he is discovered during a Musangwe tournament.


Musangwe is a brutal and deadly form of bare-knuckle boxing that has been in existence since the 1800s amongst the Venda people of Limpopo but is also practised across many African countries.

In Limpopo, this sport is said to have begun when young boys herding cattle would get their bulls to fight and would subsequently end up fist-fighting too.

While the fighting is violent and bloody, it can also be comedic and quite entertaining.

Unlike most fighting tournaments, weight isn’t used to categorise fighters, but age.

  •  Mabibi is the group for fighters as young as nine years
  • Rova is the group for people for teenagers, people aged 13 to 17
  • Ngwenya is the group for people over 18 but still under 35
  • Seniors is the group for people aged between 35 and 45
  • Legends would be the group for people over 45

The sport only has three rules, and they are as follows:

  1. The first rule is that when blood is shed, the fight is over.
  2. The fight is over once a knockout occurs.
  3. The fight can also end when a fighter raises a hand to surrender.


It is a beautiful thing to see our ancient practices immortalised by productions created by us and for us, thus limiting the distortion of African cultures. The sport of Musangwe is still alive and well, and it is a thing of pride to see how Ring of Lies gloriously shares it with the rest of our continent.

What more would you like to see on our channel?

Catch more drama on Novela Magic, DStv channel 165.

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