The Nine Most Interesting Sports You’ve Never Heard Of

Wife carrying, toe wrestling, cheese rolling: Learn more about some of the world's weirdest sports.

July 9, 2018 9:00 am
Competitors take part in the 2018 Wife Carrying Race in Dorking, Surrey, England on April 8, 2018." (Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/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)
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.

Cheese Rolling

Chris Anderson (center) wins the first race during the annual unofficial cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, where a cheese wheel has been chased down the 200-yard, one-in-three gradient hill every year since the early 1800s. (Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
PA Images via Getty Images

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.

Toe Wrestling

A general view of two people Toe Wrestling (Getty Images)
Simon Cooper - EMPICS

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.

Where? United Kingdom


Participants in the Vesna V Vozdukhe [Spring is in the Air] snowkiting tournament (Kirill KukhmarTASS via Getty Images)
Kirill Kukhmar/TASS
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.


Michal Kapral was going for a 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)
Toronto Star via Getty Images

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.

Chess Boxing

Karl Ouch (right) and Ion Citu play a round of chess during their bout at Scala, London. (Getty Images)
Andrew Matthews - EMPICS

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

Underwater Hockey

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 practice session at a 25-meter school pool in Hong Kong. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

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.

Where? Worldwide, but the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, abbreviated CMAS, is the governing body.

Shin Kicking

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)
PA Images via Getty Images

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.

Wife Carrying

Competitors take part in the 2018 Wife Carrying Race in Dorking, Surrey, England on April 8, 2018. (Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Getty Images

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.

Swamp Football

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)
Sergei Konkov/TASS

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.

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