Top 10 Oldest Sports In The World

Oldest Sports

You become your happiest version while playing your favourite sports. But this one question boggles many minds- What are the oldest sports in the world?

Sport is happiness, sport is living life to the fullest! That’s why sports are a very integral part of human history.

But how old are the sports we enjoy today? Let’s read about the 10 oldest sports in the world below-

List of Top 10 Oldest Sports In The World

I won’t bore you with too much info, promise! Here are 10 popular sports with their short origin saga.

Wrestling: Oldest Combat Sport

Wondering how did wrestling become the oldest sport? Well, there is proof. A set of 15,300 years old cave paintings in France bear testimony of wrestling. Illustrations of ancient wrestlers are also found in Mongolia, Japan, and Libya.

There’s more twist to the story for you. Sometime between 100 AD to 200 AD, some sports scholars wrote wrestling instructions on papyrus fragments. The first wrestling professionals were from 1830 France.

So wrestling has come a long way with our civilization. But what purpose did it serve back then? It helped to decide the strongest man of the clan. The winning man had clear supremacy over others.

Running: Oldest Free-hand Sports

There’s a little confusion between running and wrestling being the oldest. They might be contemporary. But I’m ranking them as the oldest sports based on found documents. The earliest cave painting capturing running as a sport dates back to 15,3000 years ago as well. So they are pretty much contemporary.

Documents aside, when did the first running competition take place? That’s hard to answer! But you can know for sure about the first Olympics. In 776 BCE running was one of the few sports of the first Olympics.

In modern times competitive running was introduced in 1829 Ireland. With variations like marathons, sprints, and hurdles running is a popular part of the Olympics.

Archery: Oldest Sports with Purpose

You must remember  Athena the Huntress, goddess from Greek myths. Her symbol is bow and arrow associated with purity. You will find archery in the parchments of many other cultures too.

Egyptians are the pioneer to incorporate archery in 10,000 BCE. It had both survival and sports purpose. Archery was also part of Japanese, Persian, Chinese, Perthian, and Indian culture. It has a matter of honor to be an archer in warfare or a hunter. Making its debut in the 1900 Olympics, Archery is a popular sport in the show.

Polo: Oldest Team Sports

It’s time to know the oldest team sport in history, the royal polo. This game was reserved for the elite class because having a fine horse is mandatory. Persian royal men of 2,500 BC used to flaunt their horse-riding skills during the game. Even the Queen with her waiting ladies took part in the game during King Khosrow.

The game was revived with its splendor in 1833 India Raj. Around that time the first polo club came into being. It was a favourite pastime for native Kings and English Officers.

Boxing: Oldest Mesopotamian Sports

Did you imagine, boxing is one of the oldest sports in the world? Its origin goes back to the Sumerian civilization. In that ancient Mesopotamia, boxing had nothing like modern leather gloves. In a Mesopotamian artefact, an intimate fight is depicted between two men.

That artefact is dated somewhat between the second to third millennium BCE. It made its entry to the 23rd Olympics in 688 BCE. That time leather hand gloves were in practice. Modern boxing starts in 16th-18th century Great Britain.

Tsu Chu: Oldest Soccer Sports

You must be confused reading the heading. Let’s start from the beginning. This sport comes all the way from 2,500 BCE China. The players put a small leather ball into a net through an opening. Now FIFA recognizes it as the oldest form of soccer.

It was a favourite form of entertainment for Chinese royals and elites. But the sport saw its decline during the Ming dynasty in (1368 – 1644).

Ulama: Oldest Mesoamerican Ball-game

This game played in the Mesoamerican cultures is contemporary to Chinese soccer. It was also a religious ritual amongst the Mayans, Olmec, and Incas. The ball was heavy enough to break any neck with a single hit.

The players were named gods and demons who dunked the rubber ball through a hoop. Wondering what happened to the losers? Sacrificed to the god!

Hurling: Oldest Irish Sports

Hurling is football and cricket combined with Irish magic for the last 3,000 years. With the Hurley stick and sliotar ball, they score goals against the opponent team. It is an inseparable part of Irish culture.

Swimming: Oldest Sports on Waters

Swimming is survival, swimming is sports! You will find swimming in the Bible, Quran, Illy ad, Beowulf everywhere. Cave paintings of recreational swimming from the Libyan desert are 6,000 years old.

There’s one fun fact for you. Swimming couldn’t become a competitive sport for its obvious utility. It was only in 1830 England where swimming got its due recognition. National Swimming Society of England came as the ultimate game-changer. With growing popularity swimming made its entry in the 1896 Olympics.

Some real justice served, no?!

Gymnastics: Oldest Self-development Sports

During 500 BCE ancient Greeks shaped gymnastics to prepare for constant warfare. It arose as a popular sport among the citizens during the Hellenistic period. That was about 323BCE to 31 BCE.

Gymnastics even spread within Roman culture. It made its way to the first Olympics too.

Two German doctors brought gymnastics to the modern world in the late 18th century. It develops your strength, agility, and balance. Gymnastics became the center of attraction since its entry into the 1896 Olympics.

The timeline is within a table to help you picturise.

Sl No Name of Sports Origin Of the Sports Modern Revival
01 Wrestling 15,300 years old 1830 AD
02 Running 15,300 years old 1829 AD
03 Archery 10,000 BCE 1900 AD
04 Polo 2,500 BCE 1833 AD
05 Boxing 3,000 BCE 16th-18th Century
06 Tsu Chu 2,500 BCE N/A
07 Ulama 2,500 BCE N/A
08 Hurling 3,000 years ago National Culture
09 Swimming 6,000 years ago 1896 AD
10 Gymnastics 500 BCE 1896 AD


Well, now you know the top 10 oldest sports in the world. Sports like Tsu Chu and Ulama are not so relevant today. But their connection with soccer and football excites a sports lover for sure.

And most of the sports are still popular today. Sport is a definite tie between culture and individual.

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