Stickfighting king ready to defend crown

Stickfighting king Roger Sambury in the gayelle at the Moruga Multipurpose and Sporting Complex on Friday night. Photo by Roger Jacob
Stickfighting king Roger Sambury in the gayelle at the Moruga Multipurpose and Sporting Complex on Friday night. Photo by Roger Jacob

THE gayelle, the African drumming, the chants, and the brave stickfighters, gave hundreds of fans a taste of bois for the Carnival season, at the Moruga Multi-Purpose and Sporting Complex on Friday night.

Several stick-men from the St Mary's gayelle, including defending national stickfighting champion Roger Sambury, stepped into the makeshift outdoor arena to do "friendly" battle as they prepare for the National Stickfighting Championships, which get under way on February 3.

The event was scheduled to start at 8pm, but there was mostly drumming and sparring until midnight, when the action really started.

“Bois man doh fraid no obeah man” was the chant from the drummers’ lead singer as the ensemble of African drums cast a mystical mood throughout the chilly night, into Saturday morning.

Altogether, there were about four major clashes with stickmen from the St Mary’s gayelle.

A stickfighter lands a blow as his opponent defends in the ring on Friday at the Moruga Multipurpose and Sporting Complex. Photo by Roger Jacob

The main battle saw Sambury go up against one of his village rivals. The 2019 champion emerged victorious after a heated 15-minute battle, which had several interruptions to ensure each fighter was physically able to continue.

In the end, Sambury reigned supreme and expressed pleasure with his performance as he gears up for his national title defence.

He said Friday’s showcase was a non-competitive affair, but in his role as "king", he has to face off with anyone who opposes him. The bout stops when a fighter gets cut or bleeds.

“I am the king (of stick) and I'm standing up for the St Mary’s gayelle. This year I want to defend my crown. So far, the vibes is nice in St Mary’s and everything is going well so far.

“We didn’t have stick (fighting) since 2019 so it’s going to be an exciting year this year. Other gayelles are warming up as well.”

Sambury confirmed there would be four more weekends of fights in St Mary’s, with the national preliminary round at the Arima Velodrome on February 3.

“There are other gayelles competing throughout the country. I go to other gayelles to support them, so we call all support each other. All the stickmen will be (there) on February 3,” he added.

Sambury said he was not worried about getting injured prior to the national competition.

"I stand up (to whoever opposes me) and we play bois. If I get cut, I get cut; if the man (opponent) get cut, he get cut. No one got cut and the vibes was nice.”

Sambury has only six years’ experience in stickfighting, having started in 2017. Two years later, he was crowned national champion. That final was held in Arima owing to the lengthy refurbishment works still ongoing at Skinner Park in San Fernando.

The other battles on Friday saw some become a bit physical. They were, however, well controlled by the ring referee and supporting members of the gayelle.

There was even one fighter who wanted to do battle with the referee after a lengthy wait for an opponent proved futile. But,the referee opted out of the challenge and stuck to his official duties.

Action continues on Friday.


"Stickfighting king ready to defend crown"

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