June can be a dull month for the British sports world. With the Premier League season done in May, some fans go into a deep summer sports withdrawal.
Others watch shin kicking.
In the Cotswold countryside of Chipping Campden in Western England, the annual Cotsworld Olimpick Games is a public celebration that includes events such wheelbarrow racing, sack racing and tug-of-war. But its premier attraction is the World Shin Kicking Championships.
As one might imagine, the rules for shin kicking are fairly simple. The goal is to kick the opponent's shins with enough force to knock them to the ground. The two competitors must start each round (each match is best-of-three series) in a shoulder hold, leaving the shins unguarded. Players are allowed to pack their trousers (American translation: Pants or, in a more modern sense of the sport, socks) with as much straw as possible to absorb some of the damage. Players are not allowed to kick in a sweeping manner, but all other contact below the knees is fair game.
If soccer is the British form of football, shin kicking is its form of wrestling.
As the sun set on the English countryside, an intrigued crowd watched a 23-year-old stone mason rise to the occasion. Zac Warren, a Pershaw, Worcestershire native, was the last man standing (literally), claiming the title of Shin Kicking Champion.
Warren might not have entered the championships had it not been for some doubters at the office. "It's been a big joke at work for the last previous months that I was gonna do it, and you know, they didn't think I was and then obviously I've come here this evening and won it," he told the Mirror.
The Cotswold Olimpicks take place in Chipping Campden on the first Friday after the Spring Bank Holiday in England (last Monday in May). With the exception of a hiatus from 1642-1660 and 1852 to 1965, the Cotswold Games have taken place nearly every year since approximately 1612.
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