shin kicking, uk, olympic, martial arts

5 of the most obscure ‘sports’ ever created

Words: Josh Rakic
Photo: Emma Wood/Getty Images

Want to become a professional shin kicker or ferret legger? Here’s how
Goanna (Lizard) Pulling

1. Topping the list is this Australian entry from the remote coastal town of Wooli, New South Wales, which is about an eight-hour drive north of Sydney. Having made its debut back in 1984, the Australian National Goanna Pulling Championships feature two men on all fours with a leather strap bound around their necks.

© YouTube/Yoohoovideo

Shin Kicking

2. Known in some circles as ‘the English martial arts’ and classed as a combat sport on its especially creative Wikipedia page, the sport of shin kicking is notorious in the UK for the extensive training regime required to compete – typically a pint or four of beer and an above-average pain threshold. While top footballers around the country drop to the ground if so much as a shoe lace touches their shins, participants at the annual Cotswold Olimpick Games shin kicking championships have nothing but hay-stuffed socks as protection as they attempt to kick their opponent into submission with blunt-force shin trauma. First to drop to the ground loses.


© YouTube/Diagonal View

Toe Wrestling

3. Thumb wars are fun and all, but how are you supposed to hold your drinks? Hence the invention of toe wrestling, arguably the least intensive of any sport ever created. With origins in the UK, it basically involves a few vineyard enthusiasts removing their socks and literally going toe-to-toe with talcum powder added for hygiene and grip. The goal is to pin your opponent’s foot to the ground. 

© YouTube/No Comment TV

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Cheese Rolling

4. The most renowned of any sport on the list, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake remains as entertaining as the day the first round of Double Gloucester Cheese was rolled down the huge hill, with its townspeople in hurling pursuit. It first came to mainstream attention in the 1970s, but is said to date back to Pagan rituals. The cheese reaches speeds in excess of 70mph and the sport’s popularity saw it spawn a made-for-iPhone game in 2010. It’s also the busiest day of the year for the local ambulance crew.

© YouTube/Badgerbrotherer1

Ferret Legging

5. Before Jackass and long after it there will be Ferret Legging, another British sport where one simply puts two ferrets down their trousers – sans underwear – in a feat of endurance to see who can suffer the pain the longest before removing the feisty rodents from their slacks. Its history dates back to when entertainment was limited only by your imagination. Even with the internet, ferret legging continues to thrive, apparently. The world record stands at over five hours.


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