25 Most Obscure Sports in the World
Watching sports throughout our evenings and weekends has become a staple, whether you’re a fan of baseball, basketball, football, or even tennis. And while most of us are a fan of some of the more well-known sports around the world, we’ve also been introduced to some lesser-known sports through competitions like the Olympic games.
From the Summer Olympics having badminton, to the Winter Olympics having biathlon, there are some obscure sports that most of us probably haven’t heard of, nor know what it’s about. If you’re interested in some more obscure sports that you might not know about nor haven’t seen around, then check out this decent list of unusual, weird, and obscure sports from around the world.
What Makes a Sport Obscure?
First, let’s figure out what makes a sport obscure. This list isn’t at all trying to make fun of a culture or sport, but instead looks to some lesser-known, fun hobbies.
Obscure is defined as not discovered or known, which just saying that the sports we’re about to look at are some sports that a lot of us might not have seen nor heard before. While they might be weird or unusual to the first-time viewer, these sports are some of the most intense hobbies for others.
Obscure Olympic Sports?
We’ve mentioned obscure Olympic sports, but what exactly are we talking about? Of course, a lot of us have watched the Olympics but might not have paid attention to the lesser-known sports that they have. So what are some of the more obscure Olympic sports that we should all watch? Here’s a quick list of some examples.
- Table Tennis, or what I call Ping Pong, was introduced in 1998 in the games and features a singles and doubles tournament. What I thought was just a house game as a child was actually an intense match.
- Badminton is another obscure sport, as I never knew a backyard game could be this intense. It’s been in the games since 1992, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
- Steeplechase is the largest track-and-field race involving obstacles and has been around since 1900. The main obstacle of the 3,000-meter race is a small body of water in the middle of the track, and it’s pure chaos to watch.
- Modern Pentathlon is an obscure sport from hell. Athletes who want to show their true power compete in this sport, as it shows individuals competing in five events, fencing, show jumping, pistol shooting, swimming, and running.
- Trampoline is not the same as playing on your trampoline in your backyard when you were a kid. This is a beautiful sport that is also incredibly dangerous depending on how you land. This Olympic sport has individuals performing at least ten different acrobatic maneuvers with five judges scoring their efforts.
- Dressage is definitely an unusual sport, as personally, it feels as though a horse is prancing around. This has been in the Summer Olympics since 1900 and has horses specifically bred for this sport. To be clear, this sport sees horses performing dance-like movements including the piaffe and passage.
- Air Pistol is one that I’m not sure I’ve ever watched when seeing the Olympics. This sport has individuals shooting with an air pistol or rifle and has been in the games since 1998.
- Ski Ballet is an interesting one for sure. This obscure sport has two sports in one, ballet and skiing. The event shows choreographed routines with flips and jumps while on smooth slopes.
- Biathlon is part of the Winter Games and is one to watch. The Biathlon is a combination of two events, cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. This wild combination has created one of the most obscure sports.
And if that isn’t enough to show that we have some wild and crazy sports in our world, then let’s check out some more obscure sports that you haven’t seen on the screen.
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The Most Obscure Sports in the World
We all know Harry Potter, and we all love Harry Potter, and one sport that we all wish we could do is Quidditch. And while no one can really fly like they did in the novels and movies, Middlebury, Vermont didn’t let that stop them.
Created in 2005 inspired by the game, one of the most obscure sports sees two teams of seven players astride broomsticks and has the same rules as the one in the fictional universe.
24. Pillow Fighting
A common activity to do as a kid is actually a sport. January 2022 was when this fun activity became a new combat sport in boxing rings, first streaming live in Florida, which was the first-ever professional Pillow Fighting Championship.
Men and women who have a background in mixed martial arts and boxing took part in this first-ever showdown.
One of the most obscure team sports originated in Brazil and is called Bossball. This ball game is between two teams, combining elements of volleyball, football, and gymnastics with music into a sport.
It’s played with an inflatable court featuring a trampoline, and players have to bounce high enough to spike the ball over the net.
22. Volcano Surfing
What’s more extreme than sliding down a volcano? This obscure sporting event is performed on the slopes of a volcano, which one of the most popular places is the Cerro Negro near Leon in Western Nicaragua. Riders hike up the side, and then slide down, either sitting or standing on think plywood or a metal board.
With so many dangers, this is one extreme sport that would get your body pumping with adrenaline, from falling and getting cut by the volcanic ash, to breathing poisonous gasses, getting hit by flying molten lava, to even contracting histoplasmosis, or “Cavers Disease”.
21. Beer Mile
This is definitely one of the most obscure sports that we would all prefer to participate in if we had a choice. The beer mile is a race that combines running and speed drinking.
The race begins with a consumption of a 12-US-flouid-ounce beer, followed by a full lap around the track. Each time they reach the start, they have to consume another beer until they reach a full mile.
20. Haka Pei
This obscure extreme sport of the Easter Islands is one that you don’t want to miss reading about. This is one of the boldest competitions among the locals and visitors who attend the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival.
Congregating at the Maunga Pu’i hill, contestants go to the top of the hill naked and slide down the hillside, lying on a rustic-looking sled built with two trunks of bananas, reaching speeds up to 49 miles per hour.
19. Fireball Soccer
Don’t you love kicking a ball around with your friends? Enjoy being out in nature playing soccer? Well, why not set that bad boy on fire? The ball is made from a coconut from a palm tree soaked in kerosene.
The players are usually soaked in salt and non-flammable spices, and they have to kick the ball with their bare feet. The most terrifying and painful sports around, as well as the most obscure sports.
18. Tuna tossing
I feel like the name says enough for this one. The obscure sport, Tuna Tossing, is one of the oldest sports in Australia. The festival is held in Port Lincoln, South Australia as a celebration of the local fishing industry.
It was first held in 1979 and has been entrenched in the Australian culture. Like the name suggests, contestants try and throw tuna as far as possible, and in the final round, players use a 10kg frozen Bluefin Tuna.
17. Bog Snorkeling
If you don’t know what a bog is, it’s a wetland that has peat, which is a bunch of dead plant materials like mosses. And for this sport, people jump right on in and snorkel.
Personally, I think this would be a bit gross for someone used to swimming in clear waters. Competitors race two consecutive distances of 60 yards in shallow, bog waters. They see who can complete the race in the shortest time while wearing a traditional snorkel, diving mask, and flippers. They have to complete this course without swimming, only using their flipper power alone.
16. Caber Tossing
I definitely feel like there’s been a movie or show that showed off this sport, but either way, this obscure sport is one that we should all start watching.
Caber Tossing is a traditional Scottish event in which competitors toss a large, tapered pole, known as a caber, and is often seen at the Scottish Highland Games. These cabers are usually made from a larch tree and can be between 16-20 feet tall, weighing around 90 to 150 pounds.
15. Dog Surfing
One of the best obscure sports is for dog parents who feel a bit too guilty going somewhere without their furry friend.
Dog surfing is just like surfing; however, you have your dogs as well. Specifically, dogs that are trained to surf on surfboards, bodyboards or skimboards. The earliest documentation of this sport was in the early 1920s in the United States and has been a sport that has stayed strong over the years.
While to many, this might be an obscure sport, but if you’re like me and enjoy going to the Renaissance Festival, this might be one you’ve heard of.
Logrolling, also known as birling, is a Sparring Sport involving two competitors, each on one end of a free-floating log in a body of water. Athletes must battle each other by sprinting, kicking the log, and using various techniques to knock the other contestant off.
A sport incredibly popular with kids and teens, Hobbyhorsing is one obscure sport that you might find pretty odd. This sport has some gymnastic elements and uses hobby horses, also known as stick horses, to perform events like show jumping or dressage without real horses being used.
The origin of this sport is Finland but can be found in several other countries as more and more horse enthusiasts have joined in on the fun.
12. Cheese Rolling
This annual event is held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester, England. Like the name suggests, participants race down a 200-yard-long hill chasing a wheel of Double Gloucester Cheese that weighs around 7 to 9 pounds.
The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. While most aim to catch the cheese, with its head start and weight, it can clock speeds around 70 miles per hour, enough to injure a viewer.
11. Lumberjack World Championship
Help annually in Hayward, Wisconsin, the Lumberjack World Championship is one obscure sport that is incredibly interesting. The event began in 1960 and is held at the Lumberjack Bowl.
There are 21 events for both men and women to compete for a grand prize of $50,000. They participate in several events such as chopping, logging, and climbing to see who is the strongest and fastest of them all.
This is a 280-year-old folk sport developed and played in South Africa.
The sport is associated with the Afrikaners and in 2001 was chosen by the SA government as one of the sports to be included in the Indigenous Games Project. Since then, the game has grown in popularity with young people of all cultures.
9. Dragon Boating
One of the most obscure sports is dragon boating, a human-powered watercraft that originated from the Pearl River Delta region of China’s southern Guangdong Province.
This traditional Chinese paddled boat racing sport began as a modern international sport in Hong Kong in 1976 but has been an ancient ritual for over 2000 years.
8. Underwater Rugby
Rugby has become more and more popular throughout the years, with several schools now hosting their own teams.
But Underwater Rugby might be something you don’t know about yet. This obscure sport involves two teams who try to score a negatively buoyant ball filled with saltwater into the opponent’s goal at the bottom of a swimming pool. This sport originated in Germany in the early 1960s.
7. Ice Yachting
This recreation and competitive sport, also known as iceboat, involves a sailing craft supported on metal runners to travel through ice.
The history began in Europe in areas where smooth ice was found in the bays of the Baltic Sea and the canals of the Netherlands during the Little Ice Age, and became a competitive sport where boats raced through courses to get the fastest times.
6. Sepak Takraw
Also known as buka ball, kick volleyball, or foot volleyball, Sepak Takraw is a team sport played with a ball made of rattan or synthetic plastic between two teams of two or four players on a court resembling a badminton court.
While similar to volleyball, players use their feet, knees, shoulders, chest, and head to touch the ball, not their hands. The sport was first introduced in the 1965 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
5. Chess Boxing
Boxing is a bit too violent, but chess is a bit too boring. Why not combine them? Chess Boxing is a hybrid sport that combines the two where contestants play alternating rounds of blitz chess and boxing until one wins by checkmate or knockout.
While the sport was actually invented by French comic book artist Enki Bilal, a Dutch performer adapted it as an art performance, and soon became a hit in the United Kingdom, India, Finland, France, and Russia.
Originating in India, this is definitely an interesting and obscure sport.
This contact team sport involves two teams of seven players, with the objective being a single player on offense to run into the opposing team’s half of the court, touch out as many of their players, and then return to their own half of the court without being tackled by the defenders in 30 seconds, which honestly sounds like an incredibly fun sport. It’s popular in the Indian subcontinent and other surrounding Asian countries.
3. Wife Carrying
If you want to connect with your partner, this is the sport to try. Not only do you have to completely trust your spouse, but working hard together always pays off.
Wife Carrying is a contest in which, you guessed it, male competitors race while carrying their female partners. The objective is for the male to carry the female in the fastest time and was first introduced in Finland.
2. Lawnmower Racing
Racing is a very common sport and one that even I watch fondly, especially NASCAR. There’s nothing like watching high-speed vehicles go in a circle for a few hours to Americans. But what about Lawnmower Racing? This motorsport has competitors racing modified lawnmowers, usually of the ride-on or self-propelled variety.
The earliest record of this organized racing was in the United Kingdom in 1968 and continues on today. There’s something about taking an average, mundane task and doing something a bit more exciting to get you through the days.
1. Sheep Shearing
One of the most obscure sports in the world has to go to sheep shearing. Something that is done to get wool fleece off a sheep isn’t just a simple and easy process, as there is so much skill and technique that goes into it to make sure it’s done right.
In fact, to become a capable shearer, you have to do some extensive training, with many taking courses and classes to learn the skills. That being said, it makes sense that several people want to compete to show off their talents. Not only do you need to make sure you’re getting close enough to the sheep’s skin without harming the sheep or the fleece, but it’s a heavy job with all that wool.
Watching sports is a great pastime, no matter which one is your favorite. Whether you’re rooting for your favorite team or are just trying to learn more about the sport to home in on your skills and techniques, there are so many reasons to watch.
But sometimes the ones we see all the time can get boring, so it’s about time we open our horizons to see and learn new interesting and obscure sports from around the world. From the competitive nature of Kabaddi to the extreme sporting event of volcano sliding, there is a bit of everything for everyone to get their hands on a new sport from different cultures.