The EXTREME Underground
The Running of the Bulls in Pampalona, Spain has been a notoriety-hog in the realm of extreme, ritualistic fun. Although a half-mile death sprint from a herd of knife-headed muscle-beasts deserves its recognition, there are plenty of other, less-known traditions out there that will get your sphincter clenched up. Let’s dive in…
Gloucestershire, England hosts one of the most badass event on this planet: a race to catch a rolling wheel of cheese… What is so badass about catching a cylindrical cut of cheese, you ask (ignorantly)? This wood-concealed, 9-lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is released from the top of a grassy cliff, dubbed Cooper’s Hill, reaching speeds up to 70 mph. A devoted assemblage of contestants murderously pursue the cheese to the bottom of near-vertical, jagged terrain only to be brutally curbed by members of the Brockworth Rugby Club. The odds of injury from the unavoidable, limp-bodied tumble are overwhelming — in 1993, there were fifteen wounded competitors. Luckily, local St. John Ambulance volunteers each year to drag the broken losers to the hospital in hopes to get them into shape enough to do it again next year. A local, veteran champion by the name of Chris Andersen won the competition six times in a row. He finally fell to an American by the name of Kenny Rackers in 2013. Any event that features chasing food, best believe an American is eventually going to top the podium.
The World Toe Wrestling Championship, another UK-based competition, is held near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England. The unofficial sport, stemming from England’s apparent failure to claim any World champions, is exactly what it sounds like: two competitors engage in a toe-lock and battle to pin the other’s foot against a boundary for three seconds. It is strict tradition for each fetish-ridden contestants to remove the other’s shoes and socks before competition. A group of four drunks in Staffordshire, 1974, invented the sport just to advertise an English world victory. Despite their grandiose efforts, they were defeated by a Canadian tourist only one year after the sport’s inception, rendering their unconventional efforts to produce a long-standing champion, fruitless. After a lengthy hiatus, the sport has been again gaining momentum, yet the Olympic committee unjustly refuses to award proper, deserved recognition. Currently, the world titleholder is Alan “Nasty” Nash but honorable mention goes to Paul “Toeminator” Beech for his flashy signature.
If you’re not one to get in the thick of competition yourself, go to Turkey and make your camel do your bidding for you. That’s right, you can train your camel to be a champion wrestler. The sport, highly-criticized by animal rights organizations, features two brooding, male camels, festooned in elegant rugs and carved saddles, tussling with their necks in attempt to knock the other to the ground. Formerly, the camels were enticed to scrap with the presence of a female in heat, but it is now frowned upon due to the severity to which the violence would escalate. With approximately thirty annual camel wrestling tournaments in Turkey, this can be not only a hobby, but also a profession. Even just breeding these hump-backed wrestlers can yield a healthy income, with top specimen selling for as much as $20,000. The identity of the current Turkish camel wrestling champion is unknown, and that is not to say that the camel champ is a particularly mysterious one, it’s just that nobody gives enough of a shit about the camels and what their names are to document that kind of information.
These intense competitions taking place primarily overseas may be an issue for the poor people, such as myself, that only travel domestically. In which case, you can just do what I do: watch YouTube videos and dream colorfully.