What is Toe Wrestling?

Most people are familiar with arm wrestling and thumb wrestling, but there is another peculiar sport that has similar gameplay mechanics as the two mentioned sports, but the body part that is used for it is probably surprising for some. This weird sport is called toe wrestling, and as its name suggests, competitors will have to use their toes proficiently in order to win a match or the entire tournament. This strange sport has been around since the 1970s, and it has steadily increased in popularity over the years, and many of the people attracted to it are either arm or thumbs wrestling champions who wanted to try a new game with similar mechanics or those who want to have fun and experience a totally bizarre sport. To know more about who invented it and how it is played, let us invite you to take a look at a short introduction to toe wrestling.

How It is Played

feet out of the swimming pool

The set of rules of toe wrestling is similar to arms wrestling, although there are a few adjustments to it so that it would better fit the toe’s anatomy. Before starting the game, the two players who will compete in a single match must remove the socks and shoes that they are wearing in order to expose their toes. The modern version of toe wrestling includes a mat or board wherein the players’ foot will be placed. This game mat or board has a line in the middle, and the player’s foot should be placed above the line. After the two players have placed their feet properly, one player must link his or her biggest toe to the other player’s biggest toe, and this is done by placing the biggest toe between the opponent’s biggest toe and second toe.

Once the toes are linked, a moderator will start the match. The objective of each player is to pin down the opponent’s toe, similar to how arm wrestling is played. In addition, the player must pin down the other player’s toe for three seconds in order to win the match.

There are three rounds that should be played for each match, and it is often in a best-of-3 format, which means that a player must win two rounds. Most tournaments require players to use their right foot first, and then the left foot should be used for the second round. The third round can either be played with the right foot or left foot, but it is usually the right foot that is played on almost all competitions.


Toe wrestling was invented in 1974 at the Ye Old Royal Oak Inn, an establishment located in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. The sport was the brainchild of four friends who love to drink at the pub. During a drinking session, they talked about how the United Kingdom has produced only a few champions in different sports compared to other countries. They then decided to create a sport that only they and some British people will know about so that the UK can finally produce many champions, although it is only in a single sport. Before arriving at toe wrestling, the group of friends tried creating other unusual sports like “push of war” and “ear wrestling” until they have found the perfect formula for a proper peculiar game by linking their toes and playing a different version of arm wrestling.

It was also during that time that they created the first “World Toe Wrestling Championship,” and the only competitors were the four drinkers. The names of these inventors are Eddie Stansfield, Pete Cheetham, Pete Dean, and Mick Dawson.

Dawson was considered the first world champion after beating all his friends in the matchups, and he retained the title the following year in the second championship. In 1976, the number of participants became five, as a Canadian tourist saw them playing it and wanted to join in the fun. Soon after, the sport became well-known around Staffordshire, and the World Toe Wrestling Championship became a legitimate tournament.

The competition was held at the Ye Old Royal Oak Inn for a long time until in the 1990s when the venue was changed to the Bentley Brook Inn, which is located nearby at the border between Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The most famous toe wrestler is Alan “Nasty” Nash, who appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno when he won the championship in 1997.

The organizers of the toe wrestling tournaments once applied for the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic Game in 1997, but their request was denied. Now, two businessmen named Alan Nash and Ben Woodroffe own the rights to toe wrestling after they bought it from the inventors in 2018. After the acquisition, the World Toe Wrestling Championships are held in different parts of the world, including India, China, and Pakistan.