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The oldest sports in the world – can you name them all?

You may have already thought about how our ancestors did sports in the past. What about a Neanderthal man – in addition to mammoth hunting, did he have any time at all for any healthy physical activity? We are honest with you. This is exactly what we were interested in, so in today’s article, we will introduce you to the oldest sports globally – but try to guess these oldest sports. Our article will reveal the secret at the very end.

The roots of gymnastics go back to 500 BC

Gymnastics were introduced to the world by the Greeks. It was initially a discipline that prepared young men for military service. During the Hellenistic period, it spread to the general population and even became part of the Olympic Games. After the Roman attacks on Greece, even the warriors adopted gymnastics. They brought it to Rome as a method of body training. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was resurrected by two German physicians – Johan Friedrich and GutsMuths and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. They created separate disciplines for boys and girls, which later became part of the Olympic Games.

Exotic Mesoamerican ball game and Tsu-chu

The following two sports do not possess an official name. Even the ancient civilizations of the Maya, Aztecs, and Olmecs played the Mesoamerican ball game, which had spread from Central America. It was founded sometime around 2500 BC. For some cultures, it even served to sacrifice human sacrifices to the altars in religious ceremonies. The modern version is known as the “ulama”.

Tsu-chu is one of the oldest sports originating in China. Again, this is a ball game that aims to get the ball into a hole in the net, and FIFA has even recognized this game as the earliest form of classic football. Tsu-chu served as a preparation for warfighters to strengthen their condition.


The first mention of boxing comes from Mesopotamia

Boxing as a sport is mentioned for the first time in Mesopotamia, in the area of today’s Iraq, and we owe it to the Sumer generation. The first preserved painting from 3000 BC shows two men without gloves, facing each other, with their shoulders raised and their fists clenched.

Boxing even appeared at the then Olympic Games – at the 23rd Olympic Games in 688 BC, which is also considered the discovery of boxing gloves – players had leather straps wrapped around their hands to protect their hands. As we know it now, the beginnings of modern boxing date back to the 16th-18th centuries, to Great Britain.

Pygmé, pyx ( box)

Swimming is undoubtedly one of the oldest sports

Humankind has been swimming since the very first moments; the first mentions and paintings date back to 6,000 BC, to the Gilf Kebir lowland area, in the Libyan desert, also known as the “Swimmers’ Cave”. Swimmers are caught in positions that resemble the style of a breast or dog, although it is quite possible that these were not the basics of these styles, as scientists have confirmed. Swimming did not become an official sport until around 1800 in England, the first country to recognize it as a competitive and recreational sport. It first appeared at the 1896 Olympic Games – but only as a male discipline.

The beginnings of archery go back to continental Africa

Evidence suggests that archery dates back to 20,000 BC, when bows and arrows were the essential equipment of every hunter – we also find them in various historical drawings. The pioneers mastering this discipline to the maximum were the Egyptians. They were followed by Persians, Chinese and Japanese, who had huge armies of archers. Archery appeared at the Olympic Games from 1900 until 1920. After a break, it has been an integral part of classical disciplines since 1972.

Wrestling or fighting – evidence in the form of cave murals

Wrestling or fighting and its origins are attributed to the inhabitants of today’s France; the first mention comes from the caves of Lascaux and dates back to about 15,300 years ago. Wrestling was already known by the old Sumerians, who also cultivated it to entertain the spectators. Egyptian warriors are drawn in paintings in the tomb of Beni Hasan, where you can check them by yourselves on your next trip to Egypt. Wrestling is also one of the oldest sports at the Olympic Games – since 704 BC.

And the winner is …. running!

Cross your heart – did you expect this winner positions of running and sprinting? We have been extremely pleased to find out. One of the reasons is that people didn’t need any equipment at all. The first runners appeared about 4.5 million years ago. The first officially proven running competition took place in 1829 in Ireland.

Race (runners of the dolicha have their hands clenched into fists), about 530 BC.

Isn’t that great? Not only is running one of the most popular disciplines, it is growing in popularity, but thanks to us and you – active or occasional runners – it will indeed survive for many centuries. Our future family relatives will remember it with love in 4085. Maybe your name will be the one to conquer one of our Virtual Championship challenges. Let’s do it together, dear running friends!

See you again in a week with another interesting article. Until then – enjoy the little special moments while practicing sports, dear friends.

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