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There is no surprise to the fact that sports are often violent and bloody. Even the gentleman’s game cricket is prone to occasional scuffles. Some of the ancient counterparts are simply terrifying. Take a look yourself – at  List of top 10 Most Violent and Bloody Sports.

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10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past

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10. PELOTA PURÉPECHA, MEXICO

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past

Invented by the native Purépechan, who lived in the Mexican state of Michoacan, the game is a form of ancient hockey where the ball is lit on fire with the help of pine resins. Like hockey, the players of two teams batter the fiery ball in attempt to get it across the goal line marked on either side of the field. The game is played at night so that the fiery ball – known as a zapandukua – makes the game look remarkable in the darkness. Unfortunately pelota purépechan is one of the 150 pre-Hispanic games that are on the verge of extinction but luckily the Mexican government is making efforts to rescue it from getting forgotten.

9. CHUNKEY, NATIVE AMERICAN

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past

It basically involves a disc shaped stone rolling across the ground and the participants had to throw spears as close as possible, to the place where the stone had stopped. Originating around 600 CE in the region what is now known as United States, it was a popular game, so much so that losers were known to have committed suicide. Chunkey was played over a large stretch of land that served to bring a large audience mix from different regions. Gambling was common and often so passionately played that few gamblers wagered everything they owned on the game. The outcomes of losses, in this case, were very grim.

8. PITZ, MAYAN CIVILISATION

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past

Rumoured to have originated around 2,500 BC, pitz was often played to settle disputes among the Mayan people. There were different variations of this game with different rules in each of them. The most popular one, among the many versions was in which the player would strike the ball with his hip; some of the other versions involved handstones, rackets, bats and forearms. It wasn’t as easy as it sound because the ball weighed 4 kg (9lbs) made out of solid rubber, but the size differed with the variation of the game. This sport, more often than not was associated with rituals and it is said that captives who were give a chance to play the game and had lost it, were beheaded. But such games were believed to be rigged beforehand.

7. BUZKASHI, CENTRAL ASIA

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
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Made memorable by its depiction in films like Rambo III (1988), Khuda Gawah (1992) – Buzkashi is a game developed by the Turkic people around 10th or 15th century. The term literally means ‘goat bashing’ and has, since its inception evolved as the national sports of Afghanistan. Traditionally, two teams of players, mount on horses and endeavour to drag the corpse of a headless goat (sometimes a calf or a sheep instead) into the goal with is nothing but a circle. The rider must lean down by the side of their horses, often when the corpse falls on the ground, and garb it. Since the game rouses fierceness, player sometimes, disregarding the rules, whip their opponents and deliberately knock them off their saddle. During the Taliban regime the sports was banned on grounds of immorality.

6. HARPASTUM, ROMAN CIVILISATION

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
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Galen, the prominent ancient physician opined that harpastum was the greatest of exercise “with varying degree of strenuousness”. The term harpastum implies ‘to seize, to snatch.’ Not much is known about the rules of the game except for the fact it was terribly violent and that one to the Greek audience happened to have fallen in the middle of the play and broke his leg. Athenaeus, a Greek rhetorician & grammarian had wrote about the game, he said, “great are the exertion and fatigue attendant upon contests of ball-playing and violent twisting and turning of the neck.” The comic poet, Antiphanes described the game in his writing as, “He seized the ball and passed it to a team-mate while dodging another and laughing. He pushed it out of the way of another. Another fellow player he raised to his feet. All the while the crowd resounded with shouts of Out of bounds, Too far, Right beside him, Over his head, On the ground, Up in the air, Too short, Pass it back in the scrum.” Sound like an old version of Rugby.

5. HURLING, IRELAND

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
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Quiet a violent game with a 3,000-year-old history and is known as the world’s fastest field game where the speed of the ball reaches up to 145 kilometres per hour. The objective is basically to hurl a ball – called sliotar – with the help of a wooden stick – called hurley – into the opponents goal post. And it is not uncommon for the players to get hurt and bruised bloody by the end of the game. In the past, the game is known to have involved hundreds of players and lasting for several hours, even days. In 1904, Hurling was included as an unofficial sport in the US Summer Olympics but since then, has never again been including in the Olympics. No wonder!

4. HE’E HOLUA (or Hawaiian Lava Sledding), HAWAII

10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
10 Chillingly Violent and Bloody Sports from the Past
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He’e holua is Hawaiian for ‘sled surfing’ which is like wave surfing that necessitates sledding down the side of a volcano mountain’s naturally or man-made courses of rock on a large sledge while standing up, lying down or kneeing. In the past, he’e holua was often associated with religious rituals for honouring the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, Pele. Originating more than 2000 years ago, the sledges used were made of coconut fiber and wood, which travelled down the slope at the breathtaking speed of up to 80 kilometres per hour. Christian missionaries brought the sports to a stop in the 19th century but in the recent past Hawaiians have taken to he’e hölua as a means to keep their ancient culture alive.

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“If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree”― believing in this moral I’ve decided to write about every kick-ass athlete and ancient forgotten sports that existed in this world. Happy reading sports history! You can & should follow me on Twitter.
  • BillHicks420

    Cambodian bloodsport not on the list? Are you joking. I’ve seen many lists on this site, most of it is pure BS. Lists are just thrown together fast and without research and consideration. This is not but a click-bait site for profit.