7 Oldest Sports in the World You Should Know

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The oldest sports in the world served as recreational and entertainment activities. We still participate in these events, although people started them thousands of years ago. These activities have been modernized and people make money from them. We can trace the origins of some of the sports and for others, it’s a bit difficult. Here’s our list.

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Boxing

7 Oldest Sports in the World You Should Know
A boxing match. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

Iraq and the Mesopotamian countries of Babylonia and Assyria, serves as the origin of boxing. From there, the ancient Greeks acquired the sport and developed it. Boxing has been part of the Olympics in 688 BC. Today, it’s one of the most popular forms of combat sport and is lucrative. 

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Horseriding

7 Oldest Sports in the World You Should Know
A man on a horse. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-3.0

People used horses for transportation in the ancient times. That evolved into riding them for leisure activities and that’s where horseracing came in, developing in ancient Rome and Greece. It’s believed to have originated from Central Europe 5,000 years ago. It became an Olympic Sport in 1900 and this makes it one of the oldest sports in the world.

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Hockey

Hockey explained. Video Credit: BenchWorm | Sports Explained

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) dates the first hockey game back to 1875. Still, some believe that the Brits were the first to play hockey, albeit in a slightly different way, as far back as the 14th century. That said, different countries around the world have played it – Egypt, Greek, Persians, and Chinese. In 1920, it was introduced into the Olympics.

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Hurling

7 Oldest Sports in the World You Should Know
A hurling game. Source: Wikimedia licensed by  CC-BY-2.0

Hurling is Ireland’s national pass time. It’s believed to have been played for over 3000 years, making it one of the oldest sports in the world. It mimics hockey but has different rules for the sport. It’s played using a stick (hurley) and a small ball on a football-like field. 

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One of the fascinating things about the sport is that players can use hands, feet and the stick to move the ball around under certain circumstances. Hurling isn’t as popular worldwide as it’s not an Olympic sport.

Football

7 Oldest Sports in the World You Should Know
A soccer ball on the field. Source: Photo by Pixabay

Football originated in England in the 12th century. Although it existed in other parts of the world and played in different forms, China was one of the countries where it took the kicking form. Later on in the 19th century, England formalized it and over the years modernized it to what we know now. 

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Gymnastics

Ancient Greece is the origin of Gymnastics and military personnel used the tactics for training. It rose in popularity during the Hellenistic period and the Romans also adopted it to prepare for war. That said, in its early days, it was for war preparation, but as years went by, it evolved as a competition. It debuted in the Olympics in 1896.

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Polo 

The sport of polo explained. Video Credit: Ninh Ly

Reports indicate that Polo is one of the oldest sports in the world. Although its exact origins remain unknown, it’s believed to have first been played over 2000 years ago. Historians trace the first competition back to 600 BC between Persians and Turnomans. 

It evolved to become a rich man’s sport with the king, queens and people from high society participating in the game. Irish captain John Watson is responsible for writing the first formal polo rules in the 19th century. 

The oldest sports in the world have evolved to become some of the most lucrative activities to pursue professionally. Their popularity has risen across the world and are becoming easier to access, but some like horseback riding and polo, remain closed to the elite.

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