Sports competitions have been a big part of our evolution as humans. It’s a way to keep soldiers fit during ancient times, and a way to contest higher stakes without killing anyone. Since then, sporting events have evolved into traditions that brought together the best athletes from all over the world. Wherever you are, people always find ways to turn even the most unusual aspects of their lives into a sport. Throwing dead goats, contorting to make a funny face, and slapping the heck out of each other, we got them all.
They may not be Olympic events but they’re happening somewhere in the world. Welcome to the 25 most hilarious and bizarre competitions from around the world!
1. The World Figure 8 Championship
Taking place in the Indianapolis Speedrome track, this motorsport event involves racers speeding around a figure 8 track, eventually crossing paths with one another. Or as we call it in the streets: “Beating the red light”. The race lasts for three hours and would test any drivers’ skill and patience in crossing that central intersection.
If you’re not feeling 100% in front of the mirror, remember that in the UK, they have a championship just for this. Tracing its origins in the 12th century, this competition is all about pulling the ugliest face you can make. You might look funny, but at least you got an award out of it.
3. Slap contests
It’s exactly what it says on the tin. This is not an event for the faint of heart, face, and palms because this glutton-for-punishment sport involves slapping the heck out of each other with some competitors getting knocked out. You must be either really drunk or out of your mind to sign up for this unless you really need that £2,300.
4. Water Jousting
You have a boat, a lance, and a river. What do you get? A sport. Tracing its origins in Sète, France in 1666, this sport is harder than it looks. It involves a lot of strength and a pair of good sea legs as you joust your opponent off their boat platform. It’s exactly like your medieval jousting event minus the shiny armor and the possible injuries when falling off a horse.
5. Cornhole Championships
Yes, those are team uniforms. Yes, that’s a sports logo. And yes, they are tossing a bag of corn into a hole. Sources say the game started in Germany around the 14th century but was rediscovered in Kentucky. Two players stand far away from the “box” while they try to shoot their bags of corn into the hole. It has since become a big event, even having a national committee overseeing the sport.
6. Phone Throwing Competition
Ever found yourself having the urge to just hurl your phone after a fight or losing reception during a crucial call? This is exactly what this sport is all about. In Finland, they made a sport out of this frustration where contestants meet annually to see who can throw their mobile phones the farthest. Don’t worry about their phones, though. They can’t use any device that’s not provided by the committee and all these phones are donated.
7. Tuk-tuk Racing
It’s fast, it’s dangerous, it’s intense. This is the world of Tuktuk racing. Tuktuks are three-wheeled light vehicles used as transportation in Sri Lanka. And if history has taught us anything about vehicles, mankind would always want to race anything that has wheels. But don’t let this scooter race fool you. It involves 2 days of driving through muddy, bumpy roads not meant for these vehicles.
8. Powerchair Football
Powerchair football gives differently-abled people a chance to join a competitive sport. And while powerchairs are used to play football, don’t ever think that this is the same as your theme park bumper cars. It takes an intense amount of skill and strategy just to “kick” that ball into the goal.
Jousting is as common as renaissance fairs. And while this is a realization of a childhood dream for many, nothing much has changed since the middle ages. Jousting is still a sport for rich people who can afford a full set of armor, a horse, and a set of elaborate surcoats and tabards. The goal is to hit your enemy with a lance, but it’s the “unhorsing” that makes the crowd go wild.
10. Extreme Jump rope
You may have been the best jump rope player in your street, but you have nothing against these people who made a simple children’s game into an extreme sport. You’re not just jumping and hopping over the ropes. This time, it combines gymnastics, parkour, and martial arts just so you can woo the judges while risking your life.
11. Ear Pulling
The Eskimo plays a game to test your pain tolerance. Two competitors face each other with a loop of string connecting their ears, with the intention of pulling the string off the ear of one another. The sport looks deceivingly simple but some competitors actually got stitches after the match.
12. Wife-Carrying Race
Originating in Finland, this grueling obstacle course is a true test of strength, endurance, and relationships. The goal is to finish the race while carrying your wife, with hopes that you don’t end up getting a divorce. A lot of legends have surrounded the sport and it has since spread in the Northwestern hemisphere.
13. Wood Planing
In Japan, they created a competition that can showcase their craft and their traditional hand tools. Wood planing is shaving the wood to get ultra-thin sheets. The goal is to get the thinnest sheet in terms of consistency and time. And before anyone asks, no, this is not how tissue papers are made.
Traditional sports boast the most dangerous, most bizarre, and the best athletes. Buzkashi is a traditional game played in Central Asia where herding is one of the most prevalent lifestyles. Riders showcase their skills in horsemanship as they collide and scrum with other riders. They fight over a carcass of a goat that they need to toss into a hole or a large pot. It’s like polo, but with a headless goat.
15. Lawnmower racing
As we mentioned, mankind always has the urge to race in anything that has wheels. Lawnmower racing largely sticks to the ride-on variety of mowers where they make a mad dash across a field. And if you feel like skill isn’t really needed here, just ask F1 racer Kimi Raikonnen.
With most of their land submerged in water, the Dutch found a way to cross these watery gaps without using bridges. Fierljeppen is a combination of a long jump and the pole vault. The goal is to cross the waterway and land on the farthest spot on the other side.
17. Cheese Rolling
No bizarre competitions list is complete without the infamous Cheese Rolling Race in the UK. Each year, thousands of spectators descend upon the steep inclines of Cooper Hill where contestants run after a wheel of Gloucester cheese. The first one to the bottom wins the wheel and hopefully, they can enjoy it after the bruises and scratches.
18. Towncrier Championships
“Hear ye! Hear ye!” Just when you thought it couldn’t get more niche, the UK has a competition for town criers or announcers of current events, proclamations, and bylaws. This event gathers a roster of loud and proud people, garbed in tricornes and greatcoats to complete the look. They are judged by their content, clarity, sustained volume, and attitude.
19. Combine Derby
We would’ve expected to see a combine harvester race, but these big and mean machines are better suited for something else: A demolition derby. In these events, combine harvesters are stripped of “unnecessary” parts so they can reinforce the front of the vehicle. The drivers then knock their competition out by damaging them enough to be immobilized or rip off their headers.
20. Chainsaw speed cutting
A lot of sports evolved from actual professions, but we guess chainsaw speed cutting will stay the same for quite some time. In this event, competitors would have to cut out the protruding sticks, testing their technique and speed as they go through the entire length of the log.
Rarajipari, a sport played by the indigenous peoples of Chihuahua, Mexico, sounds simple: You flick the ball forward with your foot then chase after it. But what if we tell you that this involves racing against another team, running hundreds of miles, and lasting for around 24 hours? Rarajipari is one of the oldest endurance races in the world and we hope to see more of it in the future.
22. Washtub Race
Each year, hundreds of people race down the Matsukawa river riding only wooden laundry washtubs while paddling down using wooden utensils. The event started in 1955 when the tourism association decided to create a spectacle to attract travelers. It has since been attended by a wide variety of characters hoping for some good clean fun.
23. Lumberjack sports
If chainsaws are too easy for you then go back to the roots. Timbersports include six different events — three for sawing skills and three for chopping. Buck sawing cutting requires precision, technique, and speed. It might be a niche sport but the sawing videos are so satisfying to watch!
Originating from Croatia, Balinjerada is a combination of a competitive race and a carnival parade. The event pools together “engineers” and their homemade cars and driver teams can be made up of one or more people. They can also don costumes to entertain side street spectators as they slide their carts down the main road.
25. Cycle Ball
Cycle Ball is football and cycling rolled into one. To score, the players must flick the ball into the goal by using their specially crafted bikes. Even if the sport seems odd for most of us, it’s pretty well known in Europe and has been around for a hundred years.
Which of these sporting events do you think you can dominate? If you have a niche skill or interest, just look around. Someone somewhere definitely turned that into a competition. SHARE this with your friends and family, and see if they know some unusual games!