Games people play: Five of the world’s oldest known sports

Imagining a world without sports isn’t difficult; it’s next to impossible. Humans have always discovered and rediscovered some of the oldest known sports in the world. Take for instance, ice hockey or the new forms of  wrestling such as judo or sombo; new forms will take over the old ones, but the heritage of these traditional sports will continue to serve as their foundation.

Wrestling, one of the oldest sports in the world

Have you heart of Abe Coleman? He was a Polish-born American wrestler who died at the age of 101 years in 2007. He played the world’s oldest competitive sport that dates back to 3000 BC. The sport was introduced into the ancient Olympics in 708 BC.

A 4000-year-old carvings found in Egypt feature teams playing hockey with sticks and a projectile Picture Courtesy: Aiaraldea Komunikazio Leihoa from flickr

The origin of the word hockey is unknown but the sport was played in Egypt, 4000 years ago. Research indicates that Hockey was played in Ireland in 1272 BC, in Ancient Greech where it was called kerhtizein, and in Mongolia, 1,000 years ago, and it was called Beikou.

Boxing dates back to the 2nd Millennium BCE Picture Courtesy: Mark Lundy

Unlike today, early boxing had no written rules and its origin dates back to a Sumerian relief in Iraq from the 3rd millennium BCE, and then from the reliefs in the 2nd millennium BCE in the Mesopotamian nations of Assyria and Babylonia, and in Hittite art from Asia Minor.

Horse Riding Picture Courtesy: Mike Hoff from Flickr

No one knows for sure when horses were domesticated and when they were first ridden, according to Wikipedia, the best estimate is that horses first were ridden approximately 3500 BC. But horse riding and equestrian events became a part of modern Olympic Games only in the 1900s.

In late 1700s, the foundation for physical education and the modern sport of gymnastics. Picture Courtesy: Gymnastiekvereniging OKK Ridderkerk from Flickr

Guess who introduced physical education to the world? The Germans. They established gymnasiums for the physical education of the masses. Johann Christoph Friedrich Guts muths (1759-1839) and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778 – 1852) are known to have laid the foundation for physical education and the modern sport of gymnastics.

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