Practiced in antiquity by men of the Zaraniq tribe in Yemen, this ancient sport has just recently started making a comeback with participants trying to jump over as many camels as they possibly can.
The official sport of Argentina, pato was originally played with a live duck, although after many government interventions participants now use a ball instead. With players on horseback it’s something of a cross between polo and basketball, the objective being to the get the ball to its own side. These days its not nearly as violent as it use to be.
If you can imagine trying to wrestle 7 people while holding your breath then you can get a feeling for what kabaddi is all about. As one of the oldest sports in Southern Asia, kabaddi is essentially a giant wrestling match between two teams. The twist, however, is that only one member of each team can cross into the other team’s territory at a time and while doing so he or she must refrain from breathing.
Closely related to tennis, this very old game has sometimes been referred to as the “fastest sport in the world”. Ball speeds could reach up to 200 mph.
One of the few bloodsports that are still actively sanctioned by modern western governments, this man vs beast showdown can trace its routes all the way back to ancient Rome.
Although today it is practiced around the world, this lethal martial art was born on the ancient battlefields of what is today known as Thailand. Commonly referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” practitioners use not just their feet and hands but their elbows and knees as well.
The national sport of Afghanistan, this game involves a number of mounted players fighting over the carcass of a headless goat after which each player tries to pitch it across a goal line.
Spartans hated sports. To be honest they thought sports were for sissies. In fact, Tyrtaios, the great Spartan war poet even wrote about how unimpressive athletic achievement was. According to him “a man is not good in warfare unless he dares look upon bloody slaughter” and to a Spartan if you aren’t good in warfare then you aren’t worth the air you breathe. It was for this reason that most of the Spartan “competitions” were so mindboggingly brutal.
Essentially one big game of tug-of-war, the Vikings preferred using animal skin over rope and playing over a huge fire pit. Usually the winners would walk away with the spoils of the town they had just plundered which often included rape-rights to the women. As you may have guessed the losers become intimately acquainted with the fire pit.
Although this sport is still popular in parts of Central America, the original game created by the Mayans is hands down probably the most insane sport on this list if not all of human history. Something like basketball, the players would bounce the balls off their hips and attempt to the get the ball through a hoop attached to the wall. The crazy part? Many times the balls were constructed out of human skulls. And in case you were wondering where they got the skulls from, all you’d have to do to find out is stick around until the end of the match. Let’s just say the losers make a donation…