Hold my beer: 5 of the world’s most obscure “sports”
As viral video hunters continue to bask in the glory of last week’s Man vs. Kangaroo boxing match courtesy of the Land Down Under - something likely to be ratified as a legitimate sport in some far-flung outback town or another - one can’t help but consider what other obscurities Australia and its Commonwealth counterparts have in store for us under the guise of a “sport”.
So with that in mind, we compiled a video list of five of the world’s most obscure sports by way of Australia and the UK that could only have been conceived after a few brews - and best contested with a couple under the belt, too.
1. And you thought the Crocodile Hunter was out there… Topping the list is this Australian entry from the remote coastal town of Wooli, NSW - 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.
2. Described as the “English martial arts” and documented 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 and an above average pain threshold. While the country’s soccer players drop to the ground if so much as a shoe lace touches their shins, the game few who contest 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.
3. Thumb wars are fun and all, but how are you supposed to hold your beers? Hence the invention of toe wrestling, arguably the least intensive of any sport ever created. With origins where else but the UK, it basically involves a few vineyard enthusiasts removing their skids and literally going toe-to-toe with talcum powder for hygiene and grip. The goal is to pin your opponent’s foot to the ground. And what would a national bar sport be without nicknames like Alan “Nasty” Nash?
4. The most renowned of any sport on the list, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake in the UK remains as irreverent, obscure and entertaining as the day the first round of Double Gloucester Cheese was rolled down the 600 ft hill, with its townspeople in hurling pursuit. It first came to mainstream attention in the 1970’s but is said to date back to pagan rituals. The cheese reaches speeds in excess of 70 mph, 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.
5. Before Jackass and long after it there will be Ferret Legging, a UK sport where one simply puts two ferrets down their trousers - sans underwear - in a feat of endurance to see who can suffer through the pain the longest before removing the feisty rodents from their slacks. As you can see by the video, its history dates back decades to when entertainment was limited only by your imagination - or how many pints you’d knocked back. Even with the internet, ferret legging continues to thrive… apparently. The world record stands at over five hours.
(start watching video at 3 minutes)