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Naked boules and other bizarre global competitions

Claudia Avila-Batchelor
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    Naked boules and other bizarre global competitions
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    BEER TÖLT, ICELAND. Hold my beer. Literally.
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Naked boules and other bizarre global competitions

If your understanding of the seven wonders of the world is limited to their being boring archaeological relics, fear not. Because you haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen or experienced the modern day wonders of bizarre competitive sports which should, quite frankly, be included in the Olympics. 

Photo credit: ninjawil on / CC BY-NC-ND

BEER TÖLT, ICELAND. Hold my beer. Literally.

Beer Tölt. The epitome of equestrian endeavours, this remarkable competition pits the most talented riders against each other, commanding their native Icelandic horses across an eventing course. While holding a pint of beer. 

puliarf on Visual hunt / CC BY

The tölt is a gait unique to Icelandic steeds, arising due to a DMRT3 gene mutation, which is specific to the coordination of the right and left sides of the horse. This manifests in a particularly steady step – a slow, lateral saunter that keeps a solid four beat rhythm. Ideal for holding a pint while riding. on Visual Hunt / CC BY

The gene mutation allows the horse’s legs to move in new patterns, resulting in their being able to run faster without breaking into a gallop. Galloping would clearly be disastrous for the pint-to-floor ratio. 

Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

The winner is the rider who spills the least amount of beer, and their prize, naturally, is being liberally furnished with alcohol. 

Anosmia on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

 Wouldn’t you love to see this at the Grand National?      

puliarf on Visualhunt / CC BY


 To counter the sexy accent they created boules-in-the-nude. 

QuidoX on / CC BY

There is some debate regarding who actually created the sport of naked boules. The UK Naturist Association denied being the originators of this sport, blaming their Gallic cousins. And, to be fair, the Brits do tend to be a lot more reserved than the amorous French. 

Photo on Visual Hunt

There are several key competitions across many naturist destinations in France, however the global annual championships are held in Scotland in June. Where it probably gets up to a balmy five degrees. We can see this being problematic for the male competitors, certainly. 

AndyRobertsPhotos on VisualHunt / CC BY

What we do know for certain is that the modern French Pètanque has its origins in the classic Greek and Roman periods. However it took the Brits to turn the game into ‘boules,’ perhaps thinking that ‘balls’ with a French accent would make it more sophisticated. And then this genteel sport was turned into a naked pastime. Well. Done. Everyone. 

marcoverch on / CC BY


 At least Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot was a sober affair… 

Photo on

Colombia is a land of plenty. Breathtaking landscapes AND inventors of the planet’s most health and safety-averse sport Tejo. A mix of gunpowder, copious amounts of beer and shots of aguardiente – distilled sugar cane that packs a mighty punch. In pre-Colombian era, tejo was played by natives fuelled by ‘chicha,’ a fermented maize drink that was part of religious festivities, giving the cacique (shaman) the ability to see and talk to spirits

mRio on VisualHunt / CC BY

Tejo is played in noisy pitches, where a crate of beer and bottle of aguardiente (no mixers) are part of the game. At each side of the individual pitch is a square mud pit, angled at around 45 degrees from the floor. In the mud, up to a dozen ‘mechas’ – triangular gunpowder wraps – are placed on a steel ring. Competitors throw heavy metal pucks (the tejo) at the mechas, making the gunpowder explode on contact. All while drinking heavily. 

eliduke on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Indigenous folk used golden tejo pucks to win the fair maiden. Now it’s basically a game of drunken pride. And while there is certainly grace and skill to this sport, once the competitive drive and impaired judgement kick in, injuries can follow. As the great, late Anthony Bourdain commented: “Explosives and alcohol. What could possibly go wrong?”  

luis perez on Visual hunt / CC BY


Make America fun again. 

eva101 on Visualhunt / CC BY

Not content with the horror that are Black Friday sales, Roadkill Cook-off and other frankly terrifying competitive ordeals, the US has created a modern day version of the Wacky Races. All you need to win is imagination, and enough charm to bribe the two competition judges. 

joelogon on / CC BY-SA

The Idiotarod is a carnival of silly costumes and shopping trolleys pimped up to masquerade as hot wheels. Teams of five battle their jazzy carts through NYC and other major cities. Understandably, the routing is kept secret until the last minute in order to thwart the fun police. 

runnr_az on / CC BY

The inspiration behind this event comes from something far more gruelling. Presenting itself as ‘the last great race on earth,’  the Iditarod is a hardcore endurance challenge across Alaska, where it launched in 1983. We are praying for the time someone makes a mistake and shows up to the original snow-based challenge wearing nothing but feather boas and tutus, pushing a stolen shopping trolley. 

eva101 on VisualHunt / CC BY


Brought to you from the land of the trippy Moomins

VisitLakeland on Visualhunt / CC BY-ND

Legend has it that in the late 1800s “Ronkainen the Robber’ and his gang would roam around villages pillaging items – including other people’s wives. Others claim that rival villagers would target each other in this wife-stealing way. So given its dark origins, the fact that this became a celebrated global sport in 1992 is something of a turnaround.

VisitLakeland on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

The good news is that wives are no longer stolen or indeed married, as participants form part of a consenting team. There are three legal types of hold, and the winners get to drink their team’s combined weight in beer. Aside from the fireman and piggyback lifts, there is the ‘Estonian’ lift, where the woman holds on for dear life, upside down on his back with her legs over his neck and shoulders. Yikes. 

VisitLakeland on VisualHunt / CC BY-ND

Such is the popularity of this contest, that there’s an actual ‘wife carrying competition rules committee.’ This ensures that regulations such as ‘everyone must enjoy themselves,’ and ‘the best costumes, most entertaining couple and strongest carrier win special prizes’ are strictly adhered to. Oh, and that the course length (253.5metres) and wet obstacle depth (1m) are stringently applied. 

VisitLakeland on Visualhunt / CC BY-ND

Races are also held in the UK, US, Australia and Asia. UK organisers claim that the ‘sport’ was actually played around 790 AD “with the help of our Scandinavian Viking cousins,” who seemingly used to steal the Brits’ wives.  

VisitLakeland on / CC BY-ND

More confusing however, is where do the ‘Estonia’ holders have their heads when they race in Oz? And do they also go round the course the opposite way to the northern hemisphere pairs? 

VisitLakeland on Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND


The Brits, arguably the kings and queens of quirky pastimes. 

mike warren on / CC BY

Dear old blighty. We may not win at football, but we have mastered a whole range of other games. Be it cheese rolling, gurning, nettle eating contests or a jaunty custard pie championship, the nation seems to have a bonkers sport for every day of the week. For proof, look no further than the ‘Hare pie scramble and bottle kicking contest. 

Loz Flowers on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

This bonkers Brit legend began in Hallaton, where it was said two damsels were saved from a charging bull by a hare distracting him. Grateful, they donated large sums of money to the church, on the proviso that each Easter Monday the vicar would pay for a couple of barrels of beer, a hare pie and 12 penny loaves for parishioners. Which resulted in a jolly scrap over the scraps. 

JulianEBeckton on / CC BY

Picture this. A sleepy Midlands village where, once a year, up to 7,000 people from adjacent villages battle it out in a giant rugby-scrum-like manner over three barrels of beer. Whilst simultaneously scrambling for some hare pie. Truly, there is a thin line between madness and genius. 

Photo credits : Hallaton Bottle Kicking 2019

Attracted by the potential of free booze and food (and who isn’t?) the neighbouring people of Medbourne soon stepped up to the melee. Today sees both villages battle it out over three ‘bottles’ (which are actually kegs). The winners are the ones who manage to get two safely into their village. Even to this day, it’s the sort of lively affair that has a St Johns Ambulance crew on standby. 

Photo credits : Hallaton Bottle Kicking 2019


We made this one up specially for you. Not to be outdone by such classic and imaginative games, we at Swingers have also created a world-class, iconic sporting event that should actually form part of the Masters.

Image by Swingers photographer Matt Chung

And the beauty of TWOLF- Twisted Golf -involves nothing more than individual or team work, and the hunger to win. Here is where you channel your inner prime athlete. It’s all in the training. Eye of the tiger! 

Image from Swingers, photographer Matt Chung

Played individually or in equal teams, opposing rivals or teams shout out a number in between 1-9  (the number of holes in each Swingers course,) at the beginning of each hole, alternating between you as you make your way through each putt. The number given corresponds to the person/people in your call list. So for example, if seven is called out, you find the 7th last person you called. Simples!    

Image from Swingers

So if, for example, the 7th last person you called was your bestie, you Facetime them and they remotely play your shot by telling you what swing/strategy to use. Then your opponent does the same. And, as in ‘Who wants to be a millionaire,’ you can’t prime your gang/family/lovers to be on standby. As they would hopefully be with you anyway. So where does the ‘Twisted’ fit into all this I hear you ask?  

Image by Swingers Photographer Matt Chung

This is where it gets interesting. Would you call your boss at 10pm on a Friday night? Your mad stalky ex? Your probation officer? Nope. We didn’t think so. In which case you forfeit your go, not only losing the points for that hole, but on top of that - you down a shot. If you make the call however, your opponent does. TWOLF. We definitely want to see the likes of Tiger Woods getting involved! 

Image from Swingers


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Swingers is the crazy golf club, a venue that takes the holy trinity that is crazy golf, street food and amazing drinks and combines them all into one incredible social experience. Swingers City is based on a 1920's golf club set in the bucolic English countryside, while Swingers West End takes crazy golf back to its seaside roots in a venue that reimagines the faded glamour of the 1920’s English Riviera.

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