Sport is a curious thing, isn’t it? It’s one of those subjects that completely divides us. Some are entirely and utterly committed to sports and their particular teams, while others remain indifferent to the whole thing.
Why have you been in an awful mood for a week straight, because your team lost the final? Why does it matter that much? If you’re not a fan, you just can’t appreciate the pride and passion that goes into it all.
As a proud Englishman, I can tell you that the country’s dedication to football (or soccer, as you may know it) is absolute. It’s not just us, either. Have you been following the progress of the 2018 World Cup in Russia? If so, you’ll have seen countries from every corner of the globe out in droves, supporting their national teams. That’s the power of sports.
Soccer, of course, isn’t for everybody. There are those who would think you’d lost your mind if you spent a fortune flying out to Russia to watch your team play. What if it happened to be a beard-growing world championship? Or a giant pumpkin kayaking tournament? Or even a worldwide toe wrestling contest? Now these are sports that everyone can get behind.
If the World Cup isn’t your thing, how about a little ferret legging or wife carrying? Yep, these are all genuine recognised sports from around the world, and we’re diving right into a rundown of some of the most brilliantly bizarre in history.
20 Toe Wrestling: Toe-tally A Real Thing
Now, we’re all familiar with that classroom classic from back in the day, the thumb war. You’d lock hands with a friend, say the rhyme and frantically try to pin their thumb beneath your own. This was the sort of ‘entertainment’ we had to put up with before smartphones, tablets and such hit. Back in my day, all we had was thumb wrestling.
If that’s a little too tame for you, why not try the classic British sport of toe wrestling? The concept is mostly the same, but you’re using your toes to try and pin your foe’s foot. This oddity originated in England in 1976.
19 Bossaball: Bizarre Belgian Brilliance
As with toe wrestling, here we’re dealing with a curious twist on an established, not so nutty formula. Bossaball was invented by a Belgian, dialling the concept of volleyball up to eleven.
The essence of bossaball is that your team must launch the ball over the net to your opponent’s side. So far, so volleyball, except for a couple of key differences. Firstly, the ball can be kept in the air by any part of the body and can be struck up to eight times before crossing over the net.
Secondly, the attacking player does so from atop a huge trampoline. Just picture the kinds of shots coming the defenders’ way.
18 Outhouse Racing: Taking ‘Got The Runs’ To A Whole New Level
Naturally, racing is a crucial element of all kinds of sports. It’s such a simple concept, but it can be adapted into all manner of different situations. Vehicle races, animal races, foot races, swimming races… the list goes on and on. In Michigan, though, one of the most intriguing racing events takes place each year: the outhouse race.
As ESPN reports, there must be two pushers, two pullers and a rider per outhouse, which must also be equipped with a toilet seat and toilet paper dispenser. The outhouse is mounted on skis, and… well, you’ve probably got quite a vivid mental picture of how this event goes down.
17 Quidditch: Just As Fun In Real Life
Now, of course, the sport of quidditch needs no introduction. In JK Rowling’s magical world, quidditch is the top sport. The football of Harry Potter, if you will. Described by the boy wizard himself as “sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops,” this fictional sport captured the imaginations of readers all over the world.
As a result, it can now be played all over the world in real life. A quidditch premier league is totally a thing, as NME reports. It’s a lot more intense than it may sound, too.
Yes, players do run around with broomsticks between their legs. Thanks for asking.
16 Wife Carrying: Don’t Drop Her, You’ll Never hear The End Of It
The next stop on our world tour of sporting oddities is Finland. Over in Sonkajarvi, the idea for a fantastic and utterly ridiculous bonding event for couples was born. Well, you can see it that way, if you want to put a positive spin on things.
That’s right, we’re talking about wife carrying. As the name suggests, competitors have to traverse an obstacle course while carrying their wife/female partner on their backs. This event has caught on in a big way all over the world.
In the North American Championships, for instance, winners receive five times their partner’s weight in cash and the right to compete in the World Championship in Finland.
15 Ferret Legging: Put WHAT In My Jeans?
Just a few entries ago, we were introduced to the wonderment that is real-life quidditch. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you surely appreciated that.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re also sure to be having some hilarious visions of Draco Malfoy right about now. That’s right, ferret legging is real. It’s here, it’s now, and we’ve just got to accept that.
Originating in Yorkshire, England, the goal of this game is to have the ferret in your pants (which are secured by tying the ankles) for the longest time. Because you just have to know, the world record is 5 ½ hours!
14 Bo-Taoshi: Carnage Guaranteed
Of course, some sports are tamer than others. If you’re playing golf, say, you probably feel relatively safe. Something like alligator and chainsaw juggling, on the other hand (no, that’s not a thing), comes with a health and safety danger or two.
Bo-taoshi is a sport that’s just clearly not for the faint-hearted. The name is Japanese for pole-pulldown, and that’s exactly what competitors must do. Two huge teams of 150 people are divided into 75 attackers and 75 defenders. The attackers must pull down the opposition’s pole, while the defenders (you guessed it) have to stop them.
Just from that description alone, you can imagine the devastation of bo-taoshi.
13 Bunny Jumping: If It’s Good Enough For Horses
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really seen rabbits as the most elegant of animals. No offense to them, of course, but can you imagine a graceful rabbit performing perfect pirouettes in a tutu? No, no you can’t.
That’s not what bunny jumping is, granted, but still. What we’re looking at here is a sort of show jumping contest for rabbits. Something akin to equestrian shows, or Crufts for dogs.
Bunny jumping was devised in Sweden, where it’s known as kaninhop. Said bunnies must leap over a range of obstacles in the course, and it’s quite fascinating to watch.
12 Beard And Moustache Growing: May The Hairiest Face Win
Now, I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade here, but… this is a slightly dubious basis for a sport, isn’t it? After all, growing hair and a moustache is just something that men tend to do automatically. I can’t really see how there can be any training regimes involved in a beard and moustache growing championship.
Do these guys wind weights around the ends of their handlebar moustaches every morning, and do 100 reps before breakfast? The world may never know. One thing’s for sure, though: I could never hope to grow facial hair magnificent enough to compete, so kudos to the contestants for that.
11 Extreme Ironing: Crease-Free Clothes Were Never More Hype
This is another one I’m feeling kind of conflicted about. After all, to the untrained eye, ironing is just one of those things that it’s super tough to attach an ‘extreme’ tag to. You’ve just taking the creases out of a couple of work shirts, not swimming with great white sharks in a hamburger costume.
If you’re a disbeliever, you’d better think again. Extreme ironers (or ironists as they call themselves) are not kidding around. They’ve ironed clothes on clifftops, underwater, all sorts of super dangerous settings have been employed. You’d better believe that extreme ironing is extreme. There’s more than just steam and the risk of ruining clothes here.
10 Pea Shooting: The Sport Of Kings
Ah, yes. Now here’s something I haven’t seen in quite some time. Way back in the day, I was a huge fan of weekly comic The Beano. Its cover star, Dennis the Menace, was a typical Ye Olde dastardly schoolchild, equipped with the usual tools of iconic old misbehaviour. First up, there was the Bart Simpson-style slingshot. Second, there was the peashooter. What a classic.
Today, in the World Pea Shooting Championships, things are taken rather more seriously. These guys are not messing around, that’s for dang certain. Rob Bresler of England is the current champion of this most noble of sports.
9 Giant Pumpkin Kayaking: Oregon’s Finest And Noblest Sport
For me, the word kayaking brings up all sorts of adventurous image. You know, intrepid explorers battling against the current on a trip down the furthest reaches of the Amazon, that sort of thing. I’m not the most daring of sorts, preferring to read about others’ ridiculous adventures rather than embark on my own.
As such, kayaking is definitely out. Giant pumpkin kayaking? That’s an even firmer no. This sport takes place at the Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Oregon, where pumpkins weighing up to 800lbs are hollowed out and raced around the lake. The answer to your inevitable question is, I really don’t know.
8 Underwater Kissing: Hold Your Breath And Pucker Up
As the Olympics have shown us countless times over the years, if you wish hard enough and your heart is pure and good, you can make a contest out of just about anything. What do you do when something isn’t actually a sport? You make it one, that’s what you do.
If it’s okay for wife carrying to become a global-recognised tournament worthy affair, then surely underwater kissing is okay too? The rules are simple: hold your breath down there and maintain a liplock for as long as possible.
Shanghai’s Zang Wenqing and Xun Jun were 2018’s champions, in case you were wondering.
7 Underwater Hockey: Yep, Really
Now, there’s a little bit of a logistical issue with this one. Have you spotted it?
That’s right. If underwater kissing is a little shonky, then underwater hockey really takes impracticality to a whole new level. Still, that bold spirit of just because I can really should be applauded.
Underwater hockey is also known as Octopush. It involves, as you can probably imagine, two teams trying to push a puck along the swimming pool floor into their opponents’ goal. There are regular breaks in play, for trivial matters such as… breathing, but underwater hockey has really taken off. The first world championship took place in 1980.
6 Joggling: Jog, Juggle, Embarrass Yourself
Now, I’m no fitness fanatic. I’m not about to sit here and claim that I’m some kind of jogging fiend, because I’m going to fool nobody with that sort of talk. I’m one of those people who refuse to ever run unless something like a Tyrannosaurus (or similar) is chasing me. I do like to keep relatively active, though.
Having said that, joggling is completely out of the question for me. As the name suggests, this is a hybrid of joggling and juggling. It comes in three varieties: speed joggling (covering a certain distance in the fastest time), error-free joggling (how far you can get without making a mistake) and trick joggling (how many juggling tricks you can perform while jogging a mile).
5 Chess Boxing: A Natural Combination
So, yes. As we saw in the last entry, we live in a world where juggling and joggling simultaneously is an actual real thing. I never thought I’d see the day that those two activities became a legitimate combination, but there it is. Heck, if peanut butter and jelly is a socially acceptable combo, why not?
Why not chess boxing, too? The World Chess Boxing Organisation runs this thrilling sport, which sees the competitors alternate between boxing and chess every round. It’s an intriguing test of physical and mental agility, making for an experience unlike any other sport out there.
4 Cardboard Tube Dueling: En Garde!
Huh. So, there we go. All these years, I’ve been an athlete and I didn’t even know it. I’ve been competing since the age of two and a half, when I first stole the tube from my nan’s birthday giftwrap and chased my sister around with it.
I wasn’t being silly. I wasn’t playing around. I didn’t break mom’s standard lamp (well, okay, yes I did on that one). I was preparing for my future in the Cardboard Tube Fighting League. That’s right. it’s a real thing, it looks ridiculous and I’m sure it’s super, super fun. Where can I sign up?
3 Shin Kicking: Exciting, Easy To Follow, Super Painful
Now, there’s no denying that sports can be a little difficult to follow at times. Particularly to casual observers. Back in the world of football, for instance, the offside rule can be a real puzzler to the untrained eye.
Fortunately, it’s not always this way. Some sports do exactly as they say on the tin. The brutal British sport of shin-kicking, for instance, is precisely that: two men kick each other in the shins until one relents, defeated. This sport dates back to the early 17th Century, and a world championship is held every year as part of the Cotswold Olimpick Games in Britain.
2 Yukigassen: Snowballs-Amundo!
Now, I was surprised enough to learn that duelling with cardboard swords while clad in cardboard armour was a legitimate sport. I’m so dang glad that it is, sure, but surprised nonetheless. Now it turns out that the humble snowball fight is also a sporting endeavour.
That’s right, friends. Over in Japan, people compete in Yukigassen. The name means snow battle, and that’s exactly what we’re talking here. The battle takes place between two teams of seven competitors, each equipped with safety gear. Should someone be hit by a snowball, they’re out of the game. Today, competitions are held wherever there’s snow enough and interest enough (Canada, Russia and Norway among others) but the world championships are held at the game’s original home: Hokkaido.
1 Camel Racing: When Horses Just Won’t Do
Come on now, people. The last time I checked, it was dang well 2018. It’s about time to get a little more open minded around here. Camels aren’t just strong and steady guides through the desert. Oh heckles no. They’re also super fast racers.
The unconventional sport of camel racing has gained huge impetus around the world. Australia is the face of the sport, though, I guess you could say, playing host to the two biggest events on the camel racing calendar: the Boulia Desert Sands in Queensland and the Camel Cup, held over in Alice Springs. Various camel-related products are also sold, camel fans.
Resources: The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Escape Here, List25, MSN, Real Buzz