Wife Carrying and Other Insane Sports From Around the World

Are you bored with the simple, safe, and logical rules of football and basketball?  Do you find the frequent lack of broken ribs boring and unwatchable? Are you looking for the kind of sporting event that involves men carrying their wives through a grueling obstacle course, all for the chance to win their wife’s weight in beer?

Then you might want to start planning a trip, because that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crazy.

1. Eukonkanto (Wife Carrying)

Place of origin: Finland

The Rules:  A rare case of the name depicting almost the entirety of the sport.  Men race through an obstacle laden course in a mad dash to the FINNISH line (sorry) where the prize of their wive’s weight in beer awaits them.  There are some minor rules regarding the weight and age of the wife, but really, let’s not get bogged down in the details – just know that your dad has the opportunity to win a hell of a lot of beer.

2. Buzkashi (Goat Dragging)

Place of origin: Afghanistan

Rules: The national sport of Afghanistan, the game of Buzkashi is a beautiful and logical game with simple rules:  the carcass of a headless goat is placed in the middle of a muddy field, while men on horses fight over control of the body in attempt to bring it to the scoring area on either side of the playing area.  Haha, on second thought, that’s batshit insane!

Unfortunately, the Taliban banned the sport due to its “immoral nature”.  God, those guys just didn’t want anyone to have any fun, did they?  The sport has enjoyed a resurgence over the last ten years due to those buzzkills being removed from power. Don’t ever let anyone say nothing good came from the U.S. invasion.

3. Royal Shrovetide Football

Place of origin: England

Rules:  At 2:00 P.M. on the beginning of Lent in Ashbourne, England begins one of the biggest and most bizarre sporting events in the world.  The rules are simple:  A ball is thrown into a crowd in the city square between two teams, consisting of nearly all the men, women, and children of Ashbourne, with the simple objective of scoring a “goal” – banging the ball three times near opposing mills, located over three miles apart from each other.

Unlike the chaotic nature of the game play, the rules are surprisingly simple: don’t carry the ball in a vehicle, no hiding of the ball, and no murder or manslaughter. Sounds totally reasonable!

4. Bo Tao-Shi (Pole Bring Down)

Place of origin: Japan

Rules: Bo tao-shi is an incredible violent and hectic game played at sports schools throughout Japan. Two teams of 150 people fight over control of  opposing poles in a unique mixture of capture the flag, king of the hill, and mountain climbing. A team is victorious if they are able to lower the pole of the team before their own falls.  Is it so much to ask that we bring this sport to other countries?

5. Tejo

Place of origin: Columbia

Rules: Trying to explain tejo to the initiated is like trying to explain the appeal of firecrackers to someone who has never lit off anything more than a sparkler.  I don’t know why it’s so fun dammit, I just like seeing stuff explode!

The idea is simple: fling a metal disc at a target surrounded by small capsules full of gunpowder, all while consuming copious amounts of alcohol.  Scoring is often arbitrary, with the participants in the game deciding how to score various throws.  Unfortunately, the sport is rarely televised, so you’re only chance to really get to experience Tejo in its true glory is to pack your bags full of booze and head on down to Columbia.

“Well, also because of the alcohol, if you’re totally drunk and start to play…you lose concentration” 

6. Kabbadi

Place of origin: India

Kabbadi is somewhat like a mixture of wrestling and tag, played by teams of seven men opposing each other on a area about half the size of a standard basketball court.  In a weird variation of “red rover” each team sends one individual, called a raider, onto the opposing team’s area in an attempt to tag members of the opposing team to force them out.  Here’s where it gets really different:  the raider must hold his breath during his entire time on the other side of the court. To prove this, the raider is required to chant “Kabbadi” repeatedly while running around in a mad dash to tag everyone else.  He also has to avoid being wrestled to the ground by members of the opposing team, who will hold him there until he runs out of breath.

7. Shin Kicking

Place of origin: England

Rules:  Shin kicking is an incredibly complicated and civil game, with hundreds of rules…wait, sorry, that’s nearly every other sport in the world.  Shin kicking is what it sounds: kicking the shins of your opponent until they can no longer stand.  Apparently when the sport was thought up there were no points given for creative naming. Competitors are allowed to stuff their pants with hay, which is of course famous for its ability to withstand crushing kicks delivered repeatedly.

 8. Sepak Bola Api (The Fireball Game)

Place of origin: Indonesia

Rules:  Played to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan, the game is played with a ball made from coconut fiber and is doused in diesel before being set aflame.  The game generally follows the same gist of soccer, with the only exception the giant flaming ball of death and the inevitable scarring from seeing one of your teammates burned alive.  It’s claimed that no competitors have ever been seriously burned will playing the sport, a claim I was unsurprisingly unable to verify.