Home Top 10 Top 10 Strangest Sports in the World

Top 10 Strangest Sports in the World

wife carrying | image credit - Wikimedia/Cortney Paxton

While football may be the global game, if you look a little further down the ranks of the most popular sports in the world you will find some pretty weird stuff going on. There are some truly bizarre sports out there, some of which are still being played right now. We are going to take a look at 10 of the weirdest sports in the world.

You Won’t Believe These Crazy Sports Even Exist

Haxey Hood

Visit small villages in rural England, and you will still find any number of strange and unusual traditions which have persisted for hundreds of years. One of these is the sport of Haxey Hood, an annual contest which takes place in January in the village of Haxey, Lincolnshire. The tradition comes from a long-told story dating back over countless generations, as most such traditions do.

It is said that a Lady was out riding and lost her hood, and a collection of local workers chased it around the fields until they were able to give it back to her. Something vaguely similar happens today, except the ‘hood’ is a rolled up hessian sack, and the game involves up to 200 people engaging in something like a giant rugby scrum and trying to push the hood towards one of four local pubs. Sounds like a messy endeavour, but at least it ends up in a nice destination!

Wife Carrying

wife carrying | image credit – Wikimedia/Cortney Paxton

The idea of this sport is pretty simple, and as it has a certain photogenic appeal you may well have heard of it somewhere or other. Basically, a man carries his female companion – it needn’t actually be his wife – around an obstacle course featuring lots of mud and water.

The sport originated in Finland off the back of vague stories about 19th century bandits who ‘stole’ women and ran away with them on their backs. The Wife Carrying World Championships has been held every year since 1992 and with a tempting prize consisting of the wife’s weight in beer it has attracted competitors from all over the world.

Chess Boxing

Boxing matches are often described as being ‘like a game of chess’, so why not just add chess to the mix for real? The idea originally appeared in a French comic-book back in 1992, but the rules took time to be developed to everybody’s satisfaction, and the first Chess Boxing competition took place in 2003.

A bout consists of 11 rounds in total, 6 of boxing and 5 of chess, and you can lose by falling short in either discipline. From a very niche sport in its early days, it has now developed into a globally-played discipline with hundreds of entries to major competitions. Today there are champions in Featherweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight, from all over the world.

Three-Sided Football

The game of Three-Sided Football (TSF for short) was invented by a Danish author to explain his ideas on the Marxian concept of dialectics, which is not something you can say about every sport. Since its conception in that 1963 book the sport has actually been played a number of times.

Three teams take to a hexagonal field and have the option as to which of the other two goals they will try to attack at any given time. While unlikely to replace the two-sided version of the game any time soon it has spawned its own World Cup, held every three years (naturally). Somewhat fittingly, the first World Cup held in 2014 was won by the Danish team.

Shin Kicking

Shin Kicking has been described as ‘the English Martial Art’, which rather suggests that the English should leave the whole martial art business to more qualified nations. Dating back to the 1700s, the name pretty much sums up how the sport works, as it involves repeatedly kicking your opponent in the shins until they hit the ground or quit.

Straw is stuffed down the trouser legs and soft shoes are worn so as to minimise the risk of damage, although it is said that in days gone by the contestants were rather less sympathetic to their opponents.

Goanna Pulling

A goanna is a type of lizard, which brings to the mind some sort of horrendous sport at the end of which the lizard does not fare well. Fortunately, the sport gets its name because the contestants look like goanna lizards when they are competing, and no reptiles are harmed during any of the contests.

In fact this Aussie sport is a form of tug of war. Two competitors face each other, harnessed together around the heads by leather straps. This Outback sport has been going strong for more than 30 years now, usually forming part of an annual contest in rural Australia featuring similarly left-of-centre pursuits.

Finger Jousting

Finger Jousting is not one of the most glamorous sports on this list, but it is one of the few you and a friend can try right now! The idea is that you hold the hand of your opponent as though you were going to arm-wrestle, except that your index finger is extended.

The winner is the person who pokes the other with his/her finger. The Finger Jousting Codes of Conduct advises that you should get a manicure before competing, so as to show respect to your adversary, and avoid jousting at ‘inappropriate times and places’, whatever they may be!


This game is a Japanese invention, and is something of a mix between ‘capture the flag’ and rugby. Two teams of 150 take part, so this may prove a little more complicated to organize at short notice than a game of Finger Jousting.

Each team tries to capture the others pole and tilt it over to a 30 degree angle. There don’t seem to be too many rules beyond that, although at least the contestants are unarmed, so the damage inflicted on the opposing team is somewhat constrained.

Pole Running

On the tiny island nation of Malta, in the Mediterranean, the traditional sport of ‘Gostra’ or pole running is practised. During the annual festival a 10m long pole is attached to a pier at a 45 degree angle, hanging out over the sea.

Flags are affixed to the end of the pole, and the pole is then greased to make the whole business a lot more complicated. Now contestants will attempt to run up the length of the pole and make a diving grab for one of the flags before gravity sends them tumbling into the water.


Another sport which you can try at home, although this one requires a certain set of physical characteristics which not everybody possesses. The sport dates back to at least the 13th century in England, and contests still take place in villages throughout the land.

To ‘gurn’ is to make a funny face, and a contestant will stick their head through a horse collar and pull the most peculiar face they can in an attempt to win. It has been noted that not having any teeth is an advantage for this particular sport, as it allows your features to become a lot more flexible, although such drastic measures are not recommended.


There are plenty of other weird and wonderful sports out there, but we hope you enjoyed our selection of ten of the best.

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