BestXI: ‘Wife Carrying’, 'Ferret-Legging' - some of the most bizarre sports of all time

By July 10, 2020

With sports all over the world coming back, and some are already in full flow, it was interesting to look back at what people used to entertain themselves throughout the lockdown period.

Sports like marble racing garnered unprecedented attention during COVID-19’s lockdown of sports.

But even before that, people found ways outside of traditional sports to enjoy themselves and some of them are, to put it mildly, quite strange.

We thought we would just introduce you to some of the more strange of these sports. Enjoy!


Underwater Hockey

This sport is not big on spectators and you can probably guess why. The field or rink is underwater, so nobody save for those with underwater cameras can see what the hell is going on. However, the rules seem to be similar to ice or field hockey. Two teams of six go at it against each other, using a stick to hit a puck into a goal. The game originated in England and is many times called Octopush and has a world governing body, Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, complete with a World Championship.  



Bossaball was started in Spain by Belgian Filip Eyckmans in 2005. The game combines volleyball, football, gymnastics and music. Played on an inflatable court, there is a trampoline on each side of a net that allows players to bounce and score through spiking as they would in volleyball. The game is played between two teams of four players. One player stays on the trampoline, with the others on the remainder of the inflatable. After a serve, each team is allowed five attempts at getting the ball back over the net. Any body part may be used and a player is allowed to take two touches if he or she does not use his hands or arms.


Wife carrying

This sport was created in Finland with the objective simply being for a man to carry a female partner through an obstacle course, with the fastest time declared the winner. Interestingly there are a number of ways to carry like the classic piggyback, or the fireman’s carry (over the shoulder), or the Estonian-style. The Estonian-style is the most visually interesting of the bunch as the ‘wife’ is upside-down on the ‘husband’s’ back with her legs wrapped around the neck and shoulders. The Wife Carrying World Championships are held every year in Finland with the prize is the wife’s weight in beer.


Rock Paper Scissors League

In the United States, the classic game of Rock, paper, scissors has taken on professional proportions, with the founding of the Rock Paper Scissors League. A national championship was televised in 2006 and 2007, but playing the game at that level has not caught on even though there has been no word that the league’s commissioner, Matti Leshem, has given up on the idea.


Dog surfing

Dogs surfing have made for famous pictures the world over, but who knew it was a full-on sport. Judges look at a dog’s overall certainty on the board, the size of the wave, and the ride length. The largest dog surfing competition is the Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition held at Imperial Beach in California.


Unicycle hockey

Horses can be expensive to maintain, making the sport of polo a little prohibitive for some. Enter the unicycle. Riding unicycles has always been novel but a very isolationist type of endeavour. Enter hockey. Now you have a team endeavour, bringing the lonely unicyclist, a shared goal with others. The International Unicycling Federation governs the sport. Any stick which is legal for ice hockey, outside of the goalkeeper’s. The game is played five-per-side with unlimited substitutions. All positions are interchangeable, including that of the goalkeeper. Unlike ice hockey, the game is a non-contact sport.


Caber Toss

This sport involves the tossing of a large tapered pole called a Caber. It is a traditional Scottish sport and the caber is usually 19 feet 6 inches long. According to rumour, the sport developed out of the need for lumberjacks to transport logs by throwing them in streams. The scoring is fairly complex and would probably take up quite a bit of time, but even if you don’t understand all the rules, the spectacle of it is undeniable.


Chess Boxing

Chess boxing, as its name suggests, is a merger between the two combat sports. The combatants fight in alternate rounds of chess and boxing. It is interesting that you can either get checkmated or knocked out to lose.

The contest consists of 11 rounds. Six rounds are dedicated to chess and five to boxing, with a victory in either discipline ending the affair.


Cheese Rolling

Cheese Rolling, like Chess Boxing, is self-explanatory. A nine-pound round of double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of a hill and competitors chase after it. The first person across the finish line at the bottom is declared the winner and the cheese is his or her prize. The aim really is to catch the cheese but almost nobody can make up the ground between the one-second headstart the cheese gets and the manner in which it accelerates. The event has made Cooper’s Hill in Glouchester where it takes place, a world-famous tourist destination with visitors coming from everywhere to take part.


Blind Soccer

Football is the most popular sport in the world but was played, unfortunately, to the exclusion of the blind. That is not the case anymore as the Paralympic sport has found a way, using pebbles or marbles in the ball, to allow the blind to follow the ball. The only persons who are allowed to see, are the goalkeepers and so those who are legally blind but can see more than others, must wear a face mask. The sport is fast-paced and a really exciting thing to watch, with talented players all over.



Ferret-legging, for all intents, is a test of endurance - but it is strange. Participants wear pants and close off the legs before putting ferrets down each pant leg. Whoever can stand to keep the ferrets inside their pants for the longest wins. It is thought the sport had its origins in England where poachers would put the animals down their trousers to hide them because it was illegal for anybody, save the relatively wealthy, to keep ferrets. Fortunately or not, Ferret-legging is a dying sport.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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    Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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