Spare yourself the gym membership and check out our list of some of the top weird and wonderful sports for you to try out.

Chess Boxing

Perhaps the ultimate merging of brains and brawn. The clues in the name, but for the uninitiated this is made up of alternate rounds of chess and boxing, with victory coming either via knockout, checkmate or judges’ decision. Initially founded by Dutchman Iepe Rubingh as just an art performance, it caught the public’s attention and became a competitive sport in its own right. It’s now particularly popular in Britain, Germany, India and Russia.

Pancake Racing

The Great British Bake Off might’ve charmed the nation, but it’s probably sent us further into the obesity mire. Those with a penchant for pancakes should take note of the Pancake Race of Olney in Buckinghamshire. Held every Shrove Tuesday, each competitor must run like the wind while flipping their pancakes. Dating back to the 1400s, rumours of Channel 4 introducing this to their version of GBBO are yet to be confirmed.

Shin Kicking

As accessible as it is painful, all you need is two people and four shins. Liquid anaesthetic (beer) might also help. Described as an English martial art, it dates back to the 17th century and made its way across the pond to the United States 200 hundred years later. Today’s competitors are required to wear soft shoes, a departure from earlier shin-kickers who were said to have worn steel-toed boots and built pain tolerance by hitting themselves with hammers.

Extreme Ironing

Multitasking at its most bonkers. Combine the great outdoors with the satisfaction of getting some housework done. Extreme ironing has been done anywhere and everywhere, including on rock faces and hilltops, and while windsurfing and bungie jumping

Bog Snorkelling

Allegedly started because of a bet, bog snorkelling’s founders either have booze to thank for this or have a vendetta against chlorine. As well as being slightly more rustic than your local swimming pool, competitors face the prospect of having to swim through bogs without the use of conventional swimming strokes. Fancy dress is encouraged.

Cardboard Tube Duelling

Now with its very own league, founder Robert Easley was inspired by his childhood memories of playing with cardboard tubes in pretend sword fights. Now with tournaments in the USA, the UK, Australia and Belgium, the sport continues to abide by three key beliefs: people need more ways to play and take themselves less seriously, events can be fun without alcohol, and cardboard sword fighting is fun!

Belly Flopping

The perfect opportunity to stick two fingers up to your old swimming teacher. Painful it may be, but treat it as a rite of passage to sporting immortality. Big is beautiful here, with pride coming before and after the fall. There’s even a world championship for the elite to take their leap of faith.

Bossaball

A mashup of football, gymnastics and volleyball, this looks ridiculously fun. Originating in Spain, you play on a massive inflatable trampoline and can hit the ball with any part of your body as long as it clears the net by the sixth touch. So named as a nod to the Brazilian style of music ‘bossa nova’, the sport’s creators say they hope to combine sports, music and positive vibrations.

Wife Carrying

Don’t settle for your better half dragging you to a spin class. Known as ‘eukonkanto’ or ‘akankanto’ in Finland where it was introduced, the aim here is for the man to carry his (or someone else’s) wife through a specially designed obstacle course. Get good enough and you can compete at the Wife Carrying World Championships. Held annually in Sonkajärvi, the winner takes home their wife’s weight in beer.

Gravy Wrestling

You’d have thought gravy had found its niche with a Sunday roast, but you can now find 1,500 litres of the stuff in a giant pool for people to battle in. Contestants aren’t just judged on their wrestling prowess but also audience applause, leading to some titanic tussles. One memorable match saw two wrestlers end up in A&E, one dressed as a nun and the other as a goblin. Soaked in gravy, the receptionist mistook them for perverts and cried out: “We don’t want your sort here!”

Have you taken part in any obscure or unusual sports? Let us know below.

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