The Nine Most Interesting Sports You’ve Never Heard Of
Chris Anderson (centre) wins the first race during the annual unofficial cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, where a cheese has been chased down the 200 yard, one-in-three gradient hill, annually, since the early 1800s. (Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
A general view of two people Toe Wrestling (Getty Images)
Participants in the Vesna V Vozdukhe [Spring is in the Air] snowkiting tournament (Kirill KukhmarTASS via Getty Images)
Michal Kapral was going for world record in joggling with 5 balls during the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Toronto. October 22, 2017. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Karl Ouch (right) and Ion Citu play a round of chess during their bout at Scala, London. (Getty Images)
In this photo taken on February 15, 2017, members of the “HK Typhoon” underwater hockey club fight for possession of the puck (bottom L) during their once-a-week team practise session at a 25-metre school pool in Hong Kong. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
The shin-kicking championships, one of the events during the Cotswold Olimpicks 2014, taking place near Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire. (Anna Lythgoe/PA Images via Getty Images)
Competitors take part in the 2018 Wife Carrying Race in Dorking, Surrey, England on April 8, 2018.” (Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Participants in the 8th Russian Open Swamp Football Cup held in the village of Pogi, Leningrad Region; swamp football was invented in Finland in the 90s. (Sergei KonkovTASS via Getty Images)
We all love football and hockey, but what about chasing a big roll of cheese down a steep hill? Or carrying your partner on your back through an obstacle course? Around the world, there are competitions that take precision and strength but are not as recognized as the major league sports that dominate the airways. Peruse the gallery below to learn about nine interesting sports you’ve probably never heard of.
What? Competitors race after a large cheese wheel that is rolled down a steep hill. The first person to reach the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.
Where? Gloucestershire, U.K.
What? Exactly what it sounds like, two people wrestle with their toes, trying to pin the other down. The sport dates back to 1976, when the Brits sought to win a world sports title.
What? Participants use a parachute-like kite and wind power to ride around on hills. You can literally soar over slopes or glide up mountains, all while doing stunts.
Where? Russia, Canada, Iceland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden and the Northern and Central United States.
What? Put running and juggling together and what do you get? Someone who has pretty unreal hand-eye coordination. Most jogglers use palm-size beanbags that are stuff with birdseed.
Where? All over, and they meet up every year for the World Joggling Championships.
What? The sport is made up of rounds of both boxing matches and chess games, and the champion can win via moves on the board or a knockout in the ring.
Where? Germany, the United Kingdom, India, and Russia
What? Two teams of six battle it out on the bottom of a pool, using snorkels and mini sticks. Also called Octopush, it was started in 1954 by Alan Blake, who used it as a means of keeping the members of the Southsea Sub-Aqua Club interested and active during the cold months of winter.
What? Also known as hacking or purring, shin-kicking involves … well, exactly what you’d think: two participants trying to kick each other to the shin in order to force them to the ground. It originated in England in the early 17th century.
Where? England. It has also been practiced by British immigrants in the U.S.
What: Competitors race through an obstacle course while carrying a woman on their back. The men go over logs and hurdles, through mud pits, up a ski slope or a mountain, and around curves. The winner gets the wife’s weight in beer (they literally put the wife on a seesaw and put cases of beer on the other side until they even out). It is very inclusive: Your wife can be your husband, and same-sex couples are allowed to compete as well.
Where? Finland, though competitions are now held worldwide, and there’s even a qualifier in Maine.
What? It’s basically soccer, but played in a bog. Each team has six players on the field at a time. The sport was initially used as exercise for athletes and soldiers but has grown in popularity.
Where? Though it started in Finland, there are now about 300 teams worldwide. The annual cup is held in Scotland.