The most unusual sports 

Words: Lea Wieser

Underwater Rugby, Elephant Polo? Here are 10 of the most unusual sports people are playing right now 

A sport can be defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. We have scoured the world for the most interesting, crazy and downright insane sports which fit into this category. Here are ten of the best that people are playing right now, who knows, you might well be the next champion in one of them…

Christmas Tree Throwing

Ever faced the problem of what to do with your christmas tree after the feasting is over? The Germans have found the perfect solution to it: In a small town in Southern Germany the World Christmas Tree Throwing Championship is held annually. The rules are simple: The person who throws their tree the furthest and the highest is the winner. If you ask the ultimate christmas tree throwing champ and world record holder Frank Schwender (his record of 25m from 2011 is still unbroken), he’ll tell you that it’s all about the throwing technique. Get practicing! 

Christmas Spirit: The annual Christmas tree throwing championship is held In Weidenthal, Germany. How far can you throw?


Chessboxing demands brain and brawn at the same time like no other athletic competition. In this hybrid sport, chess and boxing are combined in up to eleven alternating rounds, with four minutes of chess followed by two minutes of boxing. You can either win by beating your opponent at chess or at boxing. Invented by French artist Enki Bilal in his comic book Froid Équateur in 1992, the first real chessboxing event was organised by the Dutchman Iepe Rubingh in 2003. Popular in Germany and the UK, the sport is continously growing and being professionalised. The first ever chessboxing world champion is the German Sven Rooch. Think you have the brains and the guts? 


Have you got the brain and the guts? // @chessboxing_official

© Instagram // @chessboxing_official

Toe Wrestling

You might have heard of thumb wrestling before – but this one takes it even further. Back in 1974 four happy drinkers were sitting in a pub in Derbyshire, UK, moaning about England failing to produce any world champions. So why not invent a new sport and brag about having its champions? No sooner said than done! A new sport was born: Toe Wrestling. One of the founders became the first Toe Wrestling World Champion, unfortunately having to relinquish his title a couple of years later to a Canadian competitor. The World Toe Wrestling Championship takes place every year in Derbyshire. Current top players include Paul “Toeminator” Beech and Alan “Nasty” Nash, who is the current world champion. 


We agree - no comment …

Calcio Fiorentino

You have played, watched and heard too much about football and would like to have things juiced up up a little bit? Let’s play Calcio Fiorentino Storico! Also known as “historic football”, the game is a more brutal version of football which originated in the 16th century in Italy and used to be played particularly by aristocrats and popes, but is now played by combative musclemen. The sport has little do to with normal football: Two teams, each consisting of 27 players play against each other for 50 minutes on a field covered in sand. The objective: To get the ball by any means, and we mean by any means, into the opponent’s goal. By throwing, kicking or jumping into the goal with the ball in your hands - or by smashing through your opponent - anything goes. 


Calcio Fiorentino

Fight Club: In Calcio Storico Fiorentino anything goes

© Facebook // Calcio Storico Fiorentino

Camel Racing

Camels? Fast? Who would have thought it, but with a top speed of 65km/h and an average pace of 40km/h, camels are only slightly slower than horses. Camel Racing is a very popular sport in the Middle East, as well as Australia and Mongolia and fairly large amounts are bet on the races (up to a million US dollars allegedly). Some of the big events on the Camelcup calender are the Alice Springs Camel Cup or the Boulia Camel Race, both taking place in Australia. With a price purse of AUD$ 50,000 the “Sheikh Zeyed International Camel Endurance Race” is also quite a big name in the industry … Ever thought about becoming a camel jockey?

Who said camels aren’t quick?

Elephant Polo

Horses beware: Elephants are also competing with you for the supremacy of performing in sports. In Elephant Polo, is, as the name reveals, pretty much like normal polo, only with elephants! The only major difference: Two people ride each elephant: the so called mahout steers the animal, while the actual jockey tells him which way to go and is responsible for scoring. Elephant polo is popularly played in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Nepal, where the sport originated from and the World Championship takes place once a year. As defined by the World Elephant Polo Association, the most important rule in the game is: No elephant may lie down in front of the goal mouth. 

Elephant Polo

A very dynamic sport … 

© The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament Thailand

Extreme Ironing

How extreme can ironing really be? The answer is very! As an extreme ironists you iron under unusual circumstances (for example in a canoe, while skiing, on the egde of a deadly cliff, underwater or while parachuting). According to the Extreme Ironing Bureau, it is “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” It was founded in 1997 in Leicester, UK, by knitwear factory worker and rock climber Phil Shaw, who decided to merge working and his hobby into a new extreme sport. It has steadily gained in popularity since, and the first and only World Championship was held in Germany in 2002, where the competitors had to perform in different extreme ironing situations while being judged on their performance. Just think about the potential within you next time you’re ironing your work shirts on Sunday night. 

Who is wearing the perfect shirt now?


Chopping wood may seem like a tireless chore – but it might become your new favourite hobby. The Stihl Timbersports Series has turned chopping wood into a respectable sport: the athletes compete in six different disciplines (including springboard, stock saw, underhand chop, single buck, standing block chop and hot saw). Founded in 1985, the series has become a worldwide event with competitions held around the globe. The world records in each category are waiting to be broken: ever thought about becoming a professional wood chopper? You could even be the next record holder in the “standing block chop“ discipline by beating Jason Wynard’s record. He chopped through a white pine in only 12,11 seconds, which is 12 to 14 inches in circumference – get your guns out and start to chop! 


The Stihl Timbersports Series is the premier competition in timbersports

Underwater Rugby

Underwater Rugby is supposed to be THE new generation of water sports. Why? Because the only sport played in water, that we can think of is water polo and, sorry, but that’s just too old fashioned. Underwater Rugby is pretty simple to be played – two teams, 24 players, fins, mask, snorkel, a ball - and of course - a pool. Forget about virtual computer games, this is the real three dimensional team-experience.



The ultimate 3D experience

© UWR Austria

Muggle Quidditch

Ever felt excluded while watching Harry Potter because there’s just no muggle version of the game? Fear no more! Quidditch has become quite popular over the last couple of years, starting off as a college activity in the States in 2005, nowadays the International Quidditch Association organises tournaments globally. In the muggle version of the game, players run around with a broomstick between their legs - the broomstick functions more as an handicap (you have to play one-handed) than as a useful transportation tool though. The ultimate goal of the maximum 21 players is to score as many points as possible before the snitch (a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow) is caught by one of the seekers. No matter if you’re are Harry Potter fan or not, we would love to see professional athletes catching a ball in a sock with a broomstick between their legs. 

The rules of Muggle Quidditch explained in two minutes

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05 2015

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