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Five Crazy Sports That Should Be at the London Games

Trade Olympic Freestyle Wrestling for Toe or Gravy Wrestling and the shot put for Black Pudding Throwing—these English competitions are sure to be less crowded (and perhaps more fun) than the London Olympics! Read on for our round-up of the top five gold-medal Olympic-alternative events in England.


Forget the Olympics, come to the Olimpick’s instead! Held annually (not just a weak every four years like the summer games), Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games features athletic feats like tug of war, obstacle racing, and a shin-kicking competition. In this event, two contestants don steel toed boots and hold each other’s arms while kicking their opponent in the shin. Who ever begs for mercy first loses. Don’t worry, the competitors stuff their pants with straw before competing—they’re not crazy.

Gravy Wrestling

We at SmarterTravel love a good pun, so having this festival described by England’s Tourism Board as a “saucy challenge” automatically earns it a spot on our list. Grab some dry turkey or mashed potatoes and head up to Lancashire to watch contestants wrestle for two minutes in hundreds of gallons of lukewarm, expired gravy. (In some years, the sauce has been past its best-by date and donated by a generous gravy company.) Wrestlers are judged on costumes, comedy/entertainment value, moves, and audience applause. The gravy on top? The bout raises money for charities.

Black Pudding Throwing

If you optimistically think of dark-chocolate jello when you think of black pudding, you should probably stop reading now. This delicacy is made out of pig’s blood and fat and is usually served as part of a full English breakfast. In Lancashire, they host an annual competition in which black pudding is wrapped in a pair of tights and thrown at Yorkshire pudding (basically fried dough) on a tower. Whoever can knock down the most puddings with pudding, wins!

World-Stinging Nettle Eating Championships

Here’s a quote, via The Telegraph, that you’ll never hear from an Olympic champion: “They taste totally foul, and everything comes out bright green for a few days afterwards.” That was from Simon Slee, who once ate 76 feet of nettles to clinch the world record. Try your luck in Dorset, where the competition is part of a charity beer festival (that explains a lot). Whoever eats the most of the stinging plant in one hour wins!

World Toe Wrestling Championships

Unsurprisingly, the idea for this contest was dreamed up by regulars in a pub. Despite the athletic prowess involved (contestants sit on the floor and wrestle toe-to-toe), a bid to have the game included in the Olympics was rejected. Start toe training now, as this competition is held every August in Derbyshire. Even though the contest is unappetizing, it’s sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s and proceeds benefit a children’s’ charity.

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