From Camel Wrestling to Cheese Chasing: Strange Sports on the Rise

Had it with the gym? Bored with bouncing down a basketball court? Tired of doing laps at the local pool?

If you're yearning for a new way to keep fit, there's no shortage of weird and wacky sports available.

For example, why go snorkeling through a serene sea when you can pack your mask and fins and flop into a bog instead?

Bog snorkeling competitors have the not-so-scenic satisfaction of snorkeling through stinky, sooty mud water for two lengths of a 60-yard trench that has been cut through a peat bog. The snorkeler with the lowest completion time gains the grimy gold.

And here's another "water" sport with a twist: Blokarting, an activity that involves setting sail — only you do it all on land.

“Be prepared to be strapped into a 3-wheel kart that has wheels and a sail above it for the blokart race,” said 29-year-old California adrenaline sports junkie Adrian Smith. “And get ready for a little breeze burn. These lightweight karts are powered by wind and can reach speeds of up to 56 miles per hour.”

If you like the thrill of a race and are skilled at keeping the weeds away, it's time to turn a tedious task into a talent with lawnmower racing.

According to Brian Vaszily, founder of and author of “Beyond Stone and Steel," the sport originated in Britain but has developed quite a fan base in the United States.

“Events are open to all self-propelled rotary or reel-style riding lawnmowers,” he said. “The mower must originally have been designed and sold commercially to mow lawns and must remain suitable for cutting.”

While you might have a knack for identifying the difference between pepper jack and parmesan, it won’t be much help in cheese chasing.

“A wheel of cheese weighing about eight pounds is rolled down a very steep hill, and dozens of contestants go scrambling after it so hard and fast that broken limbs and other injuries are common,” Vaszily said. “Whoever nabs the cheese is the champion and they win 15 or so minutes of fame (and the cheese).”

If you prefer scary over dairy and you're more inclined to watch than participate, camel wrestling could be for you.

Originating in Turkey, camel wrestling is a spectator sport in which two male camels wrestle in response to a female camel in heat being led before them. The winner is decided when one makes the other scream, retreat or fall — but the audience too can share the heat of the moment as the camels quite often send foamy saliva and urine flying.

Prefer fighting with pillows to seeing camels battle it out? The sleepover mainstay is now a sport.

“It’s fun, but there are lots of rules as well,” said 20-year-old Australian dancer Abigail O’Conner, who pillow fights in a local competition. “We must wear mouth guards, knee pads and elbow pads and we’re judged on style, stamina and technique."

And thinkers may finally have their sport in chessboxing.

“It’s the new sport that combines the most popular physical sport with the top mental sport," said Dutch chessboxing mastermind Iepe Rubingh. This hybrid activity consists of up to 11 alternating rounds — four minutes of chess followed by two minutes of boxing, and so on.

Looking for a sport to enjoy with your sweetie? In wife-carrying, husbands do all the hard work while their other halves just enjoy the ride.

“The roots of wife-carrying go back to the early 19th century, but it has been run as an official sporting event in Finland since 1992. The men must run a grueling race [about 273 yards] over obstacles and a water jump with their wives on their back,” Vaszily said.

“It should be noted that a 15-second penalty is incurred should a man drop his wife during the course of the race. But the penalty is probably far worse when he gets home," he added.

As for the grand prize? The wife's weight in beer.

If you're a polo pro and are don't mind playing with dead animals, Buzkashi could be your competitive calling.

“As the national sport of Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, Buzkashi might take the goat for most bizarre sport of all,” Vaszily said. “It is similar to polo in that players on two teams sit atop horses, they are trying to move an object toward and into their goal and the game can get pretty rough.”

Just one small difference: instead of using a mallet or ball, this game passes and scores with a dead, decapitated calf or goat.

“Serious Buzkashi players train intensively for years, and many of the masters are over 40 years old,” Vaszily added.

On a lighter note, you can now synthesize sport, sweat and smiles with a sun salutation, thanks to laughter yoga.

According to, this smirking sport links laughter exercises with yoga breathing, and can be practiced at laughter clubs and studios across the world.

“With so much research showing the beneficial effects of laughter, people are accepting laughter as a form of therapy,” said Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of this unique method.

So are people really as serious about cheese-chasing as they are about, say, tennis?

“For many somebodies somewhere, following bizarre sports matters like nothing else in the world,” Vaszily said. “They are their life, at least while they’re playing them. And somehow that only makes these weird sports, like all sports, both more bizarre and more fascinating.”