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9 Weirdest Sports In The World

Aug. 10 2009, Published 9:16 a.m. ET

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Imagine Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier slugging it out for a round in one of history’s greatest boxing matches and then when the bell rings sitting down for a game of chess. Preposterous? Ok, maybe. But we would have loved to see it and you wouldn’t have to make up the rules as you go because Chess Boxing is a real sport.

Sure you can make a case that most sports are downright odd when stripped to their essence (smack a ball with a stick; throw a ball through a hoop) but decided to find the weirdest sports in the world and came up with the following nine.

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9. Underwater Rugby, Germany: This sport, which has little in common with the other rugby, is played in a pool between three and a half to five meters deep. Two teams, each with six players, attempt to put a slightly negatively buoyant ball into the goals at the bottom of the pool. Because of water resistance, the ball only can be thrown roughly two to three meters at a time. The game is exhausting and teammates are often replaced during a game.

8. Unicycle Hockey: This sport is has been played for nearly 25 years in America, Europe, and Asia, with actual leagues created in Great Britain and Germany. According to the rules, all players must have both feet on the pedals to engage the ball.

7. Bossaball, Belgium: This game is just like volleyball, except that players compete on giant trampolines. The name derives from bossa nova, the Brazilian musical style, probably because the referees play drums during the game.

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6. Man vs. Horse Marathon, Wales: Rather than riding horses, people race against them on a 22-mile course laden with several natural obstacles. While the horses have the advantage in the open terrain, the human competitors benefit from the thick wooded areas, making it a contest. 

5. Bog Snorkeling, Wales: This aesthetically unappealing sport, first held in 1985, involves competitors swimming in water-filled trenches cut through peat bog. The trenches are 55 meters long, and swimmers must complete the race without using conventional swimming techniques. (One offshoot of the sport is Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling, in which participants ride through the bog on specifically prepared bikes.)

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4. Chess Boxing: First envisioned in 1992 by Dutch artist Enki Bilal, this sport alternates between eleven rounds of boxing and chess. It begins with a four minute round of speed chess, then with three minutes of boxing, and then repeats the cycle. Opponents either win by knockout or checkmate. (We would have loved to have seen Bobby Fischer versus Boris Spassky in this competition.)

3. Toe Wrestling, United Kingdom: The first World Toe Wrestling Competition began in 1976 at a pub in Derbyshire, and involved competitors locking toes and forcing each other's feet to the ground. In 1997 the organizers applied to have the game added to the Olympics, but were declined. However, it's a very popular sport, and top player Alan "Nasty" Nash even appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1997.

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2. Wife Carrying, Finland: Originally invented as a joke centuries ago, this sport involves male competitors racing while carrying a female teammate through an obstacle course. The official track is 253 meters, and has two dry obstacles and a meter deep water obstacle. The sport is now played around the world, and has a category in the Guinness Book of World Records.

1. Cheese Rolling, England: Competitors chase a round of Double Gloucester cheese which is rolled down a hill. The first person to cross the finish line at the bottom wins the cheese. Although theoretically the goal is to catch the cheese itself, that hardly happens due to its head start and natural speed. Not surprisingly, there is lots of falling, tumbling, and grass stains.



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