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  • The Merge

Unusual and Obscure Sports that you never heard before

Updated: Jun 13, 2023


Unusual and obscure sports that exist

Throughout history, humans have been known to engage in a wide variety of sports and physical activities. While some of these sports, such as soccer, basketball, and football, are well-known and widely played, others are much more unusual and obscure. These sports, often known as "niche" or "alternative" sports, can range from the bizarre to the hilarious, and they have a rich and fascinating history of their own.


1. Ostrich Racing

Ostrich Racing

At the top of the list of amusing sports stands ostrich racing, known for its absurdity and entertaining appearance to the audience. With roots dating back to 1890 in Florida, this sport is said to have existed in South Africa even before that time. In this sport, participants ride on ostriches and attempt to stay on as the bird races down a track. Ostriches can reach a maximum speed of 43 miles per hour, making it a common occurrence for riders to fall off and for the bird to continue running without them.


2. Wife Carrying

 Wife Carrying

Originating in Finland, wife carrying, also known as 'eukonkanto' in Finnish, is a unique obstacle course competition where male competitors carry a female throughout the entire race in one of three ways: piggyback, a fireman's lift (over the shoulder) or Estonian style (the wife hangs upside down with her legs around the husband's shoulders). The annual Wife Carrying World Championship is held in Sonkajarvi and attracts competitors from around the globe. Additionally, there are qualifying events around the world, including the North American Wife Carrying Championship in Newry, Maine. The victors are awarded with the wife's weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and an entry into the World Championship.


3. Cheese Rolling

Cheese Rolling

The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, an annual event in Gloucester, England, has a history dating back to the 19th Century or earlier. The competition involves chasing an 8-pound round of Double Gloucester cheese down a steep hill. The first person to reach the bottom of the hill and cross the finish line wins the cheese, but falls and accidents are an inherent part of the event. In 2010, due to safety concerns, the official event was cancelled after a large turnout of 15,000 people in 2009, but it has been held unofficially ever since.


4. Toe Wrestling

Toe Wrestling

You may be familiar with arm wrestling and thumb wrestling, but have you ever heard of toe wrestling? The sport originated in Staffordshire, England in 1974 as a way to create an English world champion in a sport. In the game, players remove their shoes and socks and link their toes together. The objective is to pin the opponent's foot for a minimum of three seconds before your own foot is pinned. The winner proceeds to play the next opponent. The World Toe Wrestling Championships are held annually at the Bentley Brook Inn, in Fenny Bentley, England, and the reigning world champion of toe wrestling is Alan "Nasty" Nash.



5. Extreme Ironing

Extreme Ironing

This is not your traditional ironing. Extreme Ironing takes the household task to a whole new level. In this unconventional sport, participants iron clothes on a full ironing board while engaging in other extreme sports. Competitors take their ironing boards to remote locations, such as the top of a cliff, a beach cave, or while participating in other sports, including skiing, canoeing, and even underwater. The sport originated in England, though its exact origins are debated. Some claim it began in 1997 when a Leicester resident, Phil Shaw, wanted to go rock climbing but needed to do some chores, and brought his ironing board with him. Others claim the sport started over a decade earlier in 1980 by an Englishman named Tony Hilam, who sought to make a performance art piece of ironing in unusual locations.



6. Bog-snorkeling

Bog-snorkeling

Bog Snorkeling, a sport that began in 1976 in Llanwrtyd, Wales, resulting from a casual conversation in a bar. In this sport, participants don wetsuits, snorkels, and flippers and compete to swim through a bog, which is a wet and muddy marshy area, without using traditional swimming techniques. The competitors must use only "flipper power" to swim through the course which is two laps of 180 feet lanes. The Bog Snorkeling Championship is held annually in August in Waen Rhydd, Wales. The current champion is Neil Rutter, with a time of 1:18, while the female champion is Paddy Lambe, with a time of 1:19. Along with competing for the fastest time, participants can also be awarded prizes for the most creative or wild costumes at the competition.



7. Chess-boxing

Chess-boxing

Ever have a frustrating experience playing chess that made you want to take out your frustration physically? Look into Chess Boxing! As the name suggests, it's a combination of chess and boxing, designed to be a comprehensive workout for both the body and mind. Chessboxing was created in 1992 by Dutch performance artist Iepe Rubingh. In chess boxing, participants engage in alternating rounds of chess and boxing against a single opponent. Each competitor has a total of nine minutes of chess, broken up by three-minute intervals of boxing. Competitors win by either winning the chess match, winning the boxing match, or by the judge's decision.


8.Shovel Racing

Shovel Racing

Shovel racing is a peculiar sport that has been deemed one of the most unusual sports of all time. It involves using a shovel as a sled, instead of a traditional sled. Like many other unusual sports, it originated from practical origins. Ski resort workers found that riding on their shovels allowed them to move quickly from one point to another.

In 1997, shovel racing was even featured in the Winter X Games. However, due to safety concerns, it was not included in future events. To increase speed, competitors often wax the underside of their shovels. At peak speed, shovel racing competitors can reach up to 70 miles per hour.



These sports may not be as widely known or played as traditional sports, but they are no less fascinating or entertaining. Each one has its own unique history and culture, and they continue to captivate audiences around the world.

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