17 Brilliant World Cups You’ve Never Heard Of

unusual world cups

The better-known World Cups (football, cricket, rugby…) are fine if you like that kind of thing but they’re not full of men knocking seven shades of Camelot out of each other using medieval weapons! If you’re fed of football and sick of swinging low, sweet chariot, then here are some new world championships to get passionate about from Wife Carrying to Beer Pong. Let the games begin!

Battle of the Nations

33 national teams. 1 medieval castle. Countless epic hits. This, my lieges, is the Battle of the Nations, the world championships of Historical Medieval Battle Sport. For three days, Earth’s finest warriors gather to compete in events that largely involve bludgeoning each other with battle axes. It’s like Game of Thrones and the UFC had a big sword-wielding baby, and it kicks ass… my Lords.

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Quidditch World Cup

Launched by the International Quidditch Association in 2012, the Quidditch World Cup sees the best players gather bi-annually to determine which snitch-chasing nation can truly be considered the best in the world. The rules of this very-much-not-fictional-anymore sport are the same as in J.K. Rowling’s world-famous books, except they haven’t quite worked out how to make the broomsticks fly (yet).

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WFDF World Championships

The leading body in the world of flying disc sport (including ultimate, disc golf, discathon and more), the WFDF’s World Championships are an intensely competitive celebration of all things thrown and disc-shaped. This is athletic, powerful sporting action at its best and surprisingly entertaining to watch. Again, and again, and again, and… you get the picture.

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Thumb Wrestling World Championships

You might own a few victories over younger siblings, but the Thumb Wrestling World Championships held annually in Suffolk take things to the next level. Inviting the globe’s fiercest competitors to battle it out in real thumb-wrestling rings, fighters need all their wit, cunning, guile and girthy digits to walk away with the bragging rights.

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World Arm Wrestling Championships

Taking place over 7 days, that’s right, a full week of epic mano-a-mano competition, the World Arm Wrestling Championships are an intense battle of strength for the world’s toughest forearms. Complete with a parasport division and anti-doping policy, this is the real deal and only serious competitors need apply. Let’s get ready to… (you know the rest).

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World Shovel Racing Championships

Things are about to go downhill… Fast. You don’t need the latest skiing technology or snowboarding prowess to win at the World Shovel Racing Championships, all you need is A) a shovel and B) a healthy relationship with gravity. Held every year at the Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico, USA, this is the kind of thrilling sport that you have to imagine will one day be recognised by the Olympic committee. #JusticeForShovelRacing.

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World Pillow Fighting Championships

Pillow fighting. A sport as gentle as a tackle from Per Mertesacker, right? Wrong! The World Pillow Fighting Championships are as physically demanding as sporting challenges come and have been attracting competitors from all over the world for 50 feather-spraying years. Fighters sit on a steel beam above a muddy creek and attempt to hit each other into the bog using pillows. It’s last-man-standing action of the highest order and is far, far from a snooze fest (we’ll show ourselves out).

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World Stone Skimming Championships

350 entrants battle it out on Scotland’s Easdale Island in an attempt to be crowned the world’s best stone skimmer. Game. On. What we love about the World Stone Skimming Championships is that they give anybody the chance to become an official champion of the world. Although, you’ll have to display some pretty incredible skimming skills first as the competition is fierce and the judge’s ruling final.

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International Tree Climbing Championship

When you think of getting back to nature, you probably think of going for a leisurely walk in your local park. When the International Tree Climbing Championship competitors think of getting back to nature, they think of ascending trees that make the Incredible Hulk look small in order to be crowned the world’s greatest climber of all things woody and leafy. But each to their own, right?


Wife Carrying World Championships

One of the more unusual world cups on this list but by no means the easiest, the Wife Carrying World Championships in Finland challenge married couples to the ultimate test, an intense obstacle course where the husband cannot drop his betrothed. The winners are the duo who finish in the shortest time. The only downside, if you’re single you’ll have to get married to enter.

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Lawnmower Racing World Championships

Step aside Lewis Hamilton, we think we’ve found our new favourite motorsport. The Lawnmower Racing World Champions brings lawnmower owners from all over the world together to put their skills behind the wheel to the ultimate test. Far from ordinary mowers however, these suped-up beasts are awesome to see in action. It’s horticulture with attitude!

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Beer Pong World Series

The largest and longest-running beer pong tournament in the world, the Beer Pong World Series is not for lightweights. It is for those special players who their mates hate to play against during pre-drinks, it’s for those rare individuals who were born to throw tiny balls into cups of beer, it’s quite simply the tournament that mankind deserves.

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International Mining Games

Yep, there’s even a world championship of mining. But far from a casual day out in the countryside, this Cornwall-based competition draws teams from across the world to showcase their skills throughout a series of intense games and challenges. Only the strongest emerge victorious and it’s truly brilliant to see traditional mining techniques up close. Ore-some.

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WFPF Parkour World Cup Series

Backflipping its way into the public eye, the WFPF Parkour World Cup Series attracts the world’s top free-running talents to compete against one another in speed and freestyle challenges with the goal of crowning one sole victor and Earth’s top parkour artist.

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Hide and Seek World Championships

Take traditional hide and seek, drop it in an abandoned Italian village and add 3 days of “pure amusement, beer and concerts” and you’ve got the epic Hide and Seek World Championships. 80 teams from across the world battle it out for the prized Golden Fig Leaf, yes, it’s as utterly bonkers as it sounds and it’s absolutely brilliant.

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World Conker Championships

Spoiler alert: The World Conker Championships beat the acorns out of everything you thought you knew about this classic playground game. Swinging since 1965, the Southwick based tournament attracts thousands to see the hard-hitting action unfold and crown an undisputed all-conkering world champion with part of the proceeds going to charity.

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World Gravy Wrestling Championships

Like WWE with added sage and onion, the World Gravy Wrestling Championships are hilarious and competitive in equal measure. Taking place in Rossendale, Lancashire, wrestlers must compete in the gravy for a full two minutes to earn points for fancy dress, comedy effect and of course, wrestling ability to (hopefully) be crowned king/queen of the gravy wrestling ring.

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