World’s Most Popular Obscure Sports
What are Obscure sports?
They may not get too much coverage in the UK, but there are a ton of lesser-known sports which are all the rage in other parts of the globe.
From Japan’s physically gruelling contests to Spain’s wacky new craze, they vary enormously in style and history.
Some date back centuries or millennia, while others are fresh new creations which could boom in popularity in the future.
We’re fresh off the back of the World Cup Dodgeball final (more on that below!), so it seems the perfect time to cast our eye on some of the world’s lesser-known sports.
The word ‘Dodgeball’ probably conjures up images of the comedy cracker starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. But there’s far more to the popular sport than that.
The last month has seen the Dodgeball World Cup take place in New York City. In the end, it was Australia who grabbed the glory, with a 15-11 final victory over a valiant Malaysia side.
Dodgeball is played by people across the world at a more informal level. That includes a record-breaking game at the Castleton State College in the USA in 2012. The match in question lasted a whopping 41 hours and three minutes!
The most modern invention on this list, the Bossaball court looks more like a water park ride than a sporting venue at first glance! It’s certainly among the world’s weird sports.
Originating in Spain in 2005, this delightfully inventive game sees players face off on an inflatable court with a trampoline on either side.
This allows those involved to bounce high enough to knock the ball over the net and score points – volleyball style.
The set-up is a three-set game, with each set won when the leading side racks up 21 points (with a two-point margin over the opposition). Thus far, Belgium and the Netherlands have won all eight Bossaball World Cups and European Cups to be played.
In short, this Southeast Asian sport is basically a variation on volleyball – but with the use of the feet instead of the hands.
So it makes sense that the game’s name translates literally into English as ‘Kick Ball’.
Sepak Takraw dates back as far as the 15th century, but its global appeal has been much more recent. Since 1985, the King’s Cup World Championships has taken place every single year.
Thailand are the dominant force, winning the last four world Sepak Takraw titles. But the likes of Canada and the USA have also built good teams, as have Oman from the Middle East.
After decades as one of the obscure sports on these shores, Kabaddi is now becoming a fairly big deal in the UK. India’s Pro Kabaddi League has had live coverage from Sky Sports since 2016.
The oldest sport on this list, Kabaddi is believed to have originated in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu up to 4,000 years ago.
No surprise that the best players ply their trade in India’s top league – but Kabaddi is also the national sport of neighbouring Bangladesh.
Kabaddi has been part of the Asian Games since 1990, with India winning all seven Gold Medals. There’s also a World Cup competition. And once again, India have won all three stagings, beating Iran in the final each time.
This physically demanding sport is perhaps most notable for its size. A game of Bo-taoshi can involve a mammoth 300 competitors, split into two equally-sized teams.
The aim of the game is to lower the opposition pole. And the two sides are split into an equal number of attackers – trying to take down the other side’s pole – and defenders, who look after their own.
It’s an intensely physical sport, and most defenders can expect a flurry of kicks to their body – all within the rules.
Bo-taoshi is associated primarily with the National Defense Academy (NDA) of Japan, whose annual game always draws a big crowd.
Also known as ‘Finnish baseball’, this all-action sport was invented in the 1920s – and first hit the big time at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
So, it’s got ‘baseball’ in its nickname – but how does Pesapallo differ from ‘America’s favourite game’?
The biggie is that you’re not immediately out if your hit gets caught. But all runners on the move need to reach their base to keep the batter in the game.
And instead of the bases being in a diamond shape, there’s a tricky zig-zag shape the batters need to run in. It’s fast-paced, a little chaotic and thoroughly entertaining stuff!
Don’t forget to check out the A-Z of sports Ladbrokes offer bets on, whilst some of them may not be as obscure as this list, there are some global favourites to cover most interests!