9 Extraordinary Sports You Probably Haven’t Heard About

Extreme ironing

Are you tired of your typical everyday sports and looking for something unusual to excite you? How about racing after a ball of cheese tossed down from a mountain top, ironing your shirt on the top of an iroko tree, engaging in toe fights, or better still coaxing hundreds of worms out of the ground with limited time?

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, why don’t you read on to find out more about the extraordinary sports most people haven’t heard about?

As ridiculous as these might sound, every year, hundreds of people gather from all over the world to participate and share in the joy and excitement of these extraordinary sports in the world championship.

Some of these extraordinary sports are extreme sports, which involve a high amount of danger and excitement, yet they are becoming more popular because some people love the adrenaline rush and the feeling of invincibility that comes with these sports.

The following are extraordinary sports most people haven’t heard about:

1. Cheese rolling

Cheese rolling

This is one of the extraordinary sports that has been in existence for more than 100 years. It is one of Britain’s oldest traditions.

In this type of sports, competitors are made to race after a wheel of cheese that weighs about 3kg down a hill, and whoever catches the cheese first becomes the winner.

By rolling down the hill, the cheese moves faster and faster, making the game even more exciting. Whoever wins get to keep the cheese, and the first runner-up receives £10.

Most times, the chances of catching the cheese are very thin, so whoever crosses the finish line first is still proclaimed the winner.

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Every year, people all over the world travel down to Cooper’s hill in Gloucester to be part of this game, either as a competitor or a speculator. It has been alleged that cheese rolling started as far back as pagan times, even though it became authorized in 1800.

However, no one knows how it started or who started. The first reason why this sport started was to help people avoid the stigma of Potter’s grave.

What makes the game very dangerous is the steepness of the hill that makes it impossible for one to run down; instead, you fall, roll, or bounce on your way down.

Provisions for an ambulance are made even before the game starts because a lot of people are likely to sustain a lot of injuries.

The game was officially banned in 2010 because of the many dangers associated with it, although it had continued locally and unofficially.

2. Chess boxing

Chess boxing

Chess boxing is a game of both chess and boxing. During this game, contestants are tested for their physical abilities on the boxing ring and tested for their mental abilities on the chessboard.

To win this game, one has to be strong & smart, a good chess player, and a good boxer. You have to win either by a knock out in the ring or checkmate on the board.

It started in early 2003 when Lepe Rubingh, a Dutch artist, got the idea from a similar sport in Enki Bilal’s writing. It was earlier a work of art used as a form of entertainment and not a sport and the sport have become more and more popular since then.

This sports could have been an attempt to personify everything a chess boxer is expected to be, a man with a thick worn out hands of a boxer and the gleaming glasses of a true nerd.

Chess is thought to be an externalization of a boxer’s inner mind and boxing an externalization of a chess player’s inner mind.

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Structure and rules

Eleven rounds of boxing and chess sessions make up a match, which is usually between two players. It starts with a chess round that lasts for four minutes and is followed by boxing, which lasts for two minutes, after which they are allowed a minute pause to change their gear and catch their breath.

The form of chess played is speed chess that lasts for a total of twelve minutes.

During this period, a player wins by knocking out the other player, checkmate, a judge’s decision, or when the other player runs out of time. A player would be given a second chance of 10 seconds if he wasn’t able to make a move before his time elapsed.

The other player is declared the winner if he still wasn’t able to make a move within that extra 10 seconds.

The eleven rounds consist of six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. Each of these five rounds of boxing starts with intro music, a ring girl flitting a “Round 1” sign, and the DING of a bell.

3. Worm charming

Worm charming

Another extraordinary sport most people haven’t heard about is worm charming, and it is also known as worm fiddling or worm grunting. These are ways of attracting worms from under the ground to the surface.

It is typically performed to collect bait used for fishing, and recently it has become a form of competitive sports. Competitors collect worms for a given period, and whosoever has the highest number of worms wins the competition.

Back in the eighties, one day a Devonian went to ease himself after having drinks and was astonished as he saw worm snuck up from the ground, he called his friends to come to take a look and share the fascinating view. Thirty-two years later, worm charming became an international festival that attracted people of all classes from all works of life.

Every month of May in Blackawton, south Devon, over 650 people attend the festival and try their luck in what Australian guide has voted the most unmissable festival in Europe. A team made up of three people is given a part of land usually 3m by 3m to charm and collect as many worms as possible for a given period.

Contestants are allowed to adopt any procedure to lure worms to the surface, and they can use any liquid they think might be of help. These liquids are, however, pre-screened by judges to make sure that grasses can absorb it fast and not cause harm to the grasses.

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Any liquid containing substances that are perceived as harmful is being banned; for instance, the use of dishwashing detergent has been banned. Charles Darwin considers worms the most valuable creatures on earth.

They are very persistent even in the face of many challenges, they respond to vibrations in their environment, and this feature is utilized, especially by worm hunting moles to lure worms to the surface.

There are many ways to force worms to the surface, and competitors are allowed to choose whatever means they please as long as they are not making use of prohibited substances.

They can get worms to the surface by tapping their feet on the surface as the birds do. They can also create vibrations by mimicking worm-hunting moles or twang the ground with a fork.

4. Bubble soccer

Bubble soccer

Bubble soccer is a cross between soccer and sorbing. (sports that involve making someone roll down a hilly or levels surface in a giant plastic orb) Gaint plastic orb is also used in bubble soccer as in sorbing, but the difference is that plastic orbs used for bubble soccer allow the players to run freely with their legs.

The objective of the game is to score against the other team’s net while you prevent them from scoring against your net. The same regular ball used in football is also used in bubble soccer, and they both share the same objective.

The difference is that participants wear a bubble suit that gives them a bouncy cushion making it particularly safe and ideal for everyone particularly kids because they can bounce around and smash into each other without worrying about injuries since their body is buried in a bubble.

This game is especially fun for kids, and they often find themselves rolling around in laughter and might even forget about the soccer. In bubble games, there are no problematic and technical rules making it even more ideal for kids.

The game is similar to dodge ball at the start. When the whistle goes off, the players competitively rush down to the middle of the field in other to find the soccer ball and kick it through their bubble.

This bubble soon becomes very sweaty and makes it difficult for them to see through, making the game even tenser. Participants keep balance using only their legs because their hands are fixed inside the bubble.

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In this game, players give up mobility, but the giant orbs level the field for players of different sizes. The most crucial variable is the ability to leap and ease stress levels.

The game is made up of two teams with less than five players on each team. It lasts for about twelve minutes or less, depending on the initial agreement. Recreational bubble soccer has no set rule for the game’s duration.

The referee has the discretion to alter the duration of the game, depending on the player’s feelings. The referee always has two balls during the game. One is used to replace the other if a ball goes out of bounds during a game.

What are some of the rules of bubble soccer?

  • Both teams must have the same number of players and must be appropriately dressed before stepping into the field.
  • During the match, teams are allowed to substitute a player for another.
  • If a player falls, he is given time to stand up before the other team members can make contact again.
  • The game must be stopped with immediate effect on the referee’s signal, and the game only continues after the referee has signaled them to.
  • Females are not allowed to wear any fine jewelry during the game because it may damage the bubble and cause harm.
  • There must be at least one female player for each team at all times during the game.

5. Wife-carrying

Wife-carrying

This is yet another extraordinary sport where husbands are made to carry their wives and race through different obstacles that could include fences, water, and sand. The objective of this game is for the male competitors to carry the female through these obstacles in the fastest time.

An equivalent of the wife’s weight in beer is given to the winner. They could be carried using different styles; classic piggybacks, a fireman carry, or Estonian style. This sport originated in Finland. Stories have it that a man named Herkko Rosvo- Ronkainen, who was known for robbery, ran around with his group of thieves, causing pain in the villages.

From discoveries, there are three guesses as to why and how this sport came to be. First, Herkko and his gang stole food and women in their village and carried them on their backs as they ran.

The second guess was that young men would invade the neighboring village to steal people’s wives for themselves. These women were also carried at the back of these thieves.

Lastly is the idea that Herkko trained his subordinates to be strong and fast by making them carry large, heavy bags on their back, from which this sport was evolved. Finland has always been Know for its funny and ridiculous sports.

For instance, in Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships, participants are made to throw phones as far as possible, and the Suna World Championships, where participants struggle to sweat it out the longest.

Wife carrying, which started in Finland has today, diffused to different parts of the world like the United States, Australia, Ireland, China, and others.

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Rules and regulations

In past times, the course ran was rough and rocky, but adjustments have been made to suit modern conditions. Sands are now being used instead of rocks and pools are used instead of rivers. Some of the rules guiding this game include:

  • The length of the official track is 253.5 meters.
  • The track contains wet obstacles and dry obstacles.
  • Wife to be carried might be yours or might be anybody; however, she must be over 17 years of age.
  • The wife must have a minimum weight of 49 kilograms.
  • The game must be enjoyed by all.
  • The only equipment allowed is the belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the wife.
  • Each participant takes care of his/her safety and insurance.
  • The participants have to be attentive to the instructions given by the directors.

Other than the winners, the most entertaining couples, the best costume, and the strongest carrier are also awarded special prizes.

The international rules are the basis for all competitions, although each competition might have variations on their rules and offer different prizes or rewards.

6. Bamboo drift racing

Bamboo drift racing

Bamboo drift racing is a sport that involves standing on a bamboo pole and paddling using a thin stick of bamboo. The bamboo pole floating in water is probably the world’s tiniest boat.

Traditionally, bamboo is used to perform this sport, but the rules have changed over the years. Participants now use strips made from green fiberglass in place of bamboo poles.

This green fiber glasses offer more durability and buoyancy. They help to increase speed, and they are more portable than traditional bamboo. ( They can be dissembled at will and fixed back anytime)

This extraordinary sport originated from china in Southwest china Guizhou Province. It has been an intangible legacy passed through different generations. Bamboo drifting was previously a means of transportation for the Guizhou province locals.

Their lands were always flooded with water, and anyone who wanted to cross over from one place to another would just cut a bamboo pole, place it on top of the water and drift with it.

When they reach their destination, they would sell it off or exchange it for valuables. Although the requirement for this sport is demanding, they are also straightforward. Athletes are required to balance their body on the bamboo stick and paddle down the river with another thin stick of bamboo.

You might think it’s easy, but It’s more than just standing and paddling, they are also required to perform stunts and tricks. Jumps, push-ups, and splits are some typical stunts displayed.

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Athletes who are experts and more experienced perform even more astonishing stunts. The trick of being able to do these lies on your ability to balance the waist and control the bamboo, using the waistline.

7. Extreme ironing

Extreme ironing

This is an extreme sport in which participants carry ironing boards and other ironing materials to a remote location and iron shirts, and other items of clothing.

It is a dangerous sport that combines the excitement of extreme sports with the satisfaction of well-ironed clothe. This performance can be carried out on mountainsides of a challenging climb, in the middle of a sea.

At the same time, skiing or snowboarding, while skipping, in a canoe, on top of a giant statue, underwater, above the ground while parachuting, under the ice sheet of a frozen lake and many more extreme location you can think of.

It is one of the extraordinary sports most people haven’t heard about that would make a man passing by to stand and wonder what is going on.

In 1980, this sport was brought into existence by Tony Hiam, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England. He was inspired by his brother’s wife, John Slater, who ironed his shirts even while camping in a tent.

Tony demonstrated the triviality of extraneous ironing by doing it in odd situations like ironing on mountain lookouts, crowded airport lounges, on top of telephone kiosks, and many other strange locations.

He often carried ironing boards and ironing materials at the back of his car, searching for places and opportunities to iron that would cause passersby to gape in surprise.

Other schools of thought claimed that the sports started in 1997 in Leicester, England, by Phil Shaw in his back garden. After a tough day’s job, Shaw had a lot of chores to do, including ironing his shirts.

But he had other ideas, and he wanted to spend the evening outside, rock climbing, so he thought why not combine both activities, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

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A few years later, Shaw was embarking on international tours to promote this newfound sport making stops in South Africa, United States, New Zealand, and Australia.

He formed a group called “Extreme Ironing International” with a group of Germany tourists. After a documentary entitled ‘Extreme Ironing: pressing for victory’ was produced for Britain’s Channel 4 by wag tv, the sports gained international recognition.

Today, this extraordinary sport has developed many branches, including Bungee Ironing, which some people regarded as the ultimate in the thrill of extreme ironing. Some other activities, such as extreme cello playing, were inspired by extreme ironing.

Rules and regulation

  • The rules are quite simple and very easy to adhere to.
  • The board must be 30cm wide and 1m long with legs.
  • Iron used must be a real one and not a plastic iron.
  • Garment being ironed must be at least the size of a tea towel.
  • It must take place outdoors.

Some of the remarkable extreme ironists in history include:

  • John Roberts and Ben Gibbons, who ironed above Everest Base Camp.
  • On 28 March 2011, Dutch diving club De Waterman set the new world record of extreme underwater ironing.
  • In 2012, steam took on a new challenge and ran the Hastings Half Marathon in March, ironing shirts all the way.
  • On 16 June 2018, a freediver named Roland Piccolo ironed a T-shirt at a depth of 42m in the world’s deepest pool.

8. Toe wrestling

Toe wrestling

In toe wrestling, opponents try to pin each other’s foot down while their bare feet remain locked with toes. It has been a childish game but has today made it to the big time adult sporting world. It is very similar to arm wrestling but pretty easier.

Participants remove their shoes and face each other toe-to-toe across the teodium. They interlock their big toes and attempt to force each other off the teodium. This sport requires skill more than strength. The foot which is not being used is left in the air with hands flat on the floor.

The game consists of a total of three rounds, starting with the right foot, the left foot, and then the right again. Easy you might think, but it can get tricky sometimes, and participants may sustain several injuries such as bruises, strain in the ankles, or even broken toes.

It also stresses the back and is not advisable for people with back or spine issues. Toe hygiene is seriously considered. Nurses are employed to inspect toes for fungus and other traces of infection.

They also make sure that none of the competitors hides weapons in-between toes before the competition starts. It started about fifty years ago when a group of friends at the Royal Oak Inn complained about England’s lack of control in athletics.

They wanted a sport where Britain would dominate, and somehow, toe wrestling was chosen. Since it’s inception, there is an entire championship centered on this sport. Toe wrestling has continued to gain traction even though it has refused to be accepted officially as an Olympic sport by International Olympic Committee.

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This extraordinary sport has continued to attract the attention of people from all over the world. It has both men and women championships.

The competition which typically lasts for one hour is a best-of-three competition. Every year more than twenty people turn up to participate in the tournament.

They are divided into groups, and winners move on through the groups until the leaders of different groups go toe-to-toe in the final tournament. Champions of this game advise that developing toe muscle; however you can is very helpful if you are to be successful in this game.

9. Logrolling

Logrolling

Logrolling is pretty much what it sounds like. People roll on top of a log placed on a water body for as long as they can before falling off. It can be done individually or as a duel where two people roll on top of a log while trying to outlast the other person. Logs used can be a real or an artificial log.

It is a balance challenge, the ability of a competitor to balance their body on the log even while rolling determines who would last longer.

This sport is most prevalent in warm weather and can be done readily in areas where timber and water bodies are available. The water body can either be natural or shallow, wide or narrow, deep or shallow.

Although the sport is intense, it can also be entertaining, which makes it an ideal sport to play with family and friends either as a recreational tool or in the form of a competition. It can also serve as an exercise.

Logrolling has been in existence for 200 years. It had started with the emergency of the wood industry. Rivers were the main route for timber transportation, and lumberjacks who managed the flow of the resulting log traffic learned how to balance themselves on top of the floating wood as they crossed from one place to another through the sea.

As time went on, they started using it as a recreational activity they enjoyed during their leisure time. Sometimes they would turn this skill into a friendly competition challenging their co-workers to match once the day’s work had wrapped.

In 1898, the first unofficial log rolling championship took place in Omaha, and later on, the sport diffused beyond the lumberjack community. To roll on a log, you have to lower the knee, engage your core, and set the feet in motion, moving as quickly as possible.

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It requires a lot of lower body strength because you are in a squat-like position most of the time. With the log continually spinning and with you trying to make it to the top of the log all the time, it would seem like you are climbing.

Core strength, balance, and fast footwork are the necessary skills required for this sport. Although the first attempts are not so encouraging, you get better as you engage more.

Before you start, it could be helpful to practice the proper techniques first on land and create muscle memory because on water, everything is happening so fast, and keeping up would require more than just moving the legs.

To stay on, it is imperative that the feet are always moving, not just moving, but moving fast. Competitors are not allowed to touch or cross the centerline. No special outfit is required – anything goes. Competitors can wear swimsuits, shorts, sports bras, running shorts, etc.

Amateurs can go barefoot on a synthetic log while the more experienced ones can wear minimalist athletic shoes for more traction.

Conclusion

To many people, some of these sports listed above shouldn’t even be considered a thing. While it is unbelievable to these people, some other people have become addicted to the excitement and rush these extraordinary sports create.

What do you think? Are these the type of sport you find engaging? Have you ever participated in any of these extreme sports before? If yes, kindly share your experience with us in the comments below.

Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.