Really Real: Unusual Sports That You Won’t Believe Are Actually Sports

The great sporting occasions of our generation and those before us have always been well promoted, and that much is obvious. From the World Cup to the Super Bowl to the NBA Finals, all three of these events also had something else in common – they were related to some of the biggest sports in the world.

So it should come as no surprise that all around the globe, there are some sports that don’t quite receive as much attention as they’d desire. Most of the time there’s a good reason for this, with the overriding feeling being that they’re so utterly bizarre that no self-respecting network would actually decide to broadcast them.

But where’s the fun in that? At the end of the day sports bring a lot of people from different backgrounds and cultures together, so why not create a bit of diversity within the realms of bringing light to unique sporting occasions?

With that in mind, you’d best brace yourselves for what we’re about to bestow upon you.

Chess boxing

Our logic is that if it has a Wikipedia page, then it meets the correct credentials – and chess boxing gets us off to a phenomenal start. The competitors involved fight in alternate rounds, with one being based on a chess match and the next being a boxing fight. If you add in a shot drinking competition, you could really have something here.

Underwater hockey

It’s hockey, but underwater. It sounds simple enough and it certainly reduces the likelihood of picking up a nasty injury, but at the same time, it sounds incredibly difficult. After all, the majority of people in this country struggle with a backstroke, so they likely wouldn’t be able to make it into the national side for the World Championships.

Yup, they have World Championships.

Toe wrestling

This is essentially a watered-down version of arm or thumb wrestling, and it actually sounds a little bit more challenging. Those who compete often play under ‘best 2 out of 3’ rule sets, and it once gained such notoriety that a former champion appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno way back in 1997. There’s a unique claim to fame, right there.

Elephant polo

When the most notable publicity your sport has received is an appearance in a Jack Whitehall documentary on Netflix, you know you’re in trouble. Still, it’s an interesting idea for the more privileged amongst the Thai population, but it may also be a little duller considering the lumbering pace of most elephants in comparison to horses. Just an observation.

Sepak takraw

Whilst this may just look like a string of letters thrown together, it’s actually one of the more fascinating entries on this list. Sepak takraw is essentially a form of football tennis, with the rules being based around volleyball but using your feet. It’s primarily played over in Asia, but we’d like to see it make an appearance over in Europe.

Cheese rolling

We’ve all seen cheese rolling either on the news or on the web, and it doesn’t get any less ridiculous the more we talk about it. The event is held annually at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester, with dozens upon dozens of people throwing themselves down a hill with the aim of obtaining a wheel of cheese. It begs the question of why they didn’t just pop to Tesco’s, really.

Shin kicking

Nope. Sorry, but there is no way on this planet that this should even be legal. The majority of us know what it feels like to be kicked in the shin, either on purpose or accidentally, and the fact that this has been a legitimate thing since the 17th century is both baffling and disgusting. The aim is to quite literally kick your opponent so hard to the point where they are forced to the ground; that’s it.

Wife carrying

It’s often joked about that the woman of the house does the majority of the work, so perhaps this is a way in which the men can repay them for all of their efforts. Then again, when the prize for the World Championships depends on the wife’s weight in beer, the reputation of the sport tends to go down in our books ever so slightly.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘don’t quit your day job’, but this really does take the biscuit. We’d absolutely love to see some of these feature in the Olympic Games one day, both Summer and Winter, if only to see the reactions of the athletic purists within the BBC and beyond.

At the end of the day not everyone is blessed with the ability to run 100m in 13 seconds or less, so perhaps we should be grateful that sports like toe wrestling and elephant polo exist.

There’s a sentence you wouldn’t have expected to hear when you got up this morning.