Top 10 alternative sports in the world

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Oil-drenched wrestlers in Turkey or thundering hooves in Pakistan’s mountain villages – get some inspiration before booking your hotel with these top 10 alternative sports in the world.

Oil wrestling in Edirne, Turkey

Hundreds of oil-slicked wrestlers gather at the Kirkpinar Yağli Güreş tournament to grapple for glory in this centuries-old sport. Cheer on the burly champions, or try to catch smaller competitions in Turkish villages throughout the summer.

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Hurling in Dublin

This frenetic 15-a-side game is a mixture of hockey and Gaelic football, played with a curved wooden stick. At its historic headquarters Croke Park, passionate supporters of “the Dubs” swirl blue chequered flags as the songs and cheers get louder.

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Kabaddi in Mumbai

India loves this traditional sport, likened to macho playground tag. Two teams on opposite sides of the court invade their enemy territory. Each must enter without being tagged, and chant “kabaddi kabaddi kabaddi” under their breath. Ask at your hotel about tournaments or practice in Mumbai’s parks and sports stadiums.

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Camel racing in Dubai

At Al Wathba racecourse, camels race around the track, with wealthy owners and supporters riding alongside in their 4x4 jeeps. Their “jockeys” are tiny remote-controlled robots, steering and whipping them to victory.

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Rodeo in Nevada

Unleash that cowboy or cowgirl in you at rodeo events, where you can watch the finest skills on horseback to the wild cheers of the crowd decked out in ten-gallon hats.

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Traditional polo in Gilgit

Forget polo as a sport of the wealthy. In northern Pakistan, it’s played in spectacular mountain villages like Gilgit, with few rules and a rough-and-tough approach. The beat from the musicians accompanies play, and locals perch on the high wall around the pitch to watch these sturdy horses in action.

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Dragon boat racing in Singapore

Carved painted dragon heads adorn the front of these slim rowing boats, and teams of 20 paddlers are aided by a drummer at the back and someone steering at the front. Spectators crowd the banks of Singapore River as boats from around the world race on major festivals.

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Roller derby in New York

It’s no holds barred as rollers-kating women clad in punky gear, kneepads and helmets race and battle boisterously against their opposing team around a circular track. 

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Muay Thai in Bangkok

The frenetic ring is as pumped up inside as out, as the kickboxers use any part of their body to punch, leglock and kick. Lithe and fast, this popular sport is cheered on by locals who love gambling on the outcome, but historic roots are reflected in the accompanying traditional music. 

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Curling in Montreal

A couple of brooms, a rectangular slick of ice and polished granite stones form this winter sport, rarely seen outside Canada. Teams slide the stone down the ice towards the target, egged on by the crowd and also the sweepers who “polish” the ice on its journey. 

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