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United Kingdom: 401st Annual UK Shin Kicking Championship


401st Annual UK Shin Kicking Championship (Courtesy: RTV/HUTC/CBS)

401st Annual UK Shin Kicking Championship (Courtesy: RTV/HUTC/CBS)

For over four centuries local contestants in the rural English town of Chipping Campden have been partaking in largely harmless and healthy events as part of the Cotswold Olimpicks. That is with the exception of one brutal sport - the shin kicking championships.

"The origins are fairly lost in the mists of time, but certainly it's at least five or six hundred years old," explains shin kicking judge James Wiseman. "We've been doing it here for 400 years so it probably started as a variation on wrestling."

"It is painful, injuries are not unknown," adds event chairman Graham Greenall.

"Possibly sprains and strains. It's a skillful sport. The point is if you're kicking somebody's shins, their usual idea is to avoid it and that puts them off balance and then you can trip them and throw them, you've then scored the point. So it's a tactical as well as a physical sport, but sometimes it's just purely brutal."

Shin kicking is one of the most popular events as part of the local festivities, but that brutality means few are brave enough to turn-up again.

Except this time. Last year's champion Zak Warren, a 24-year-old Stonemason from Pershaw, Worcestershire, decided to defend his crown.

"This year I'm not going to stand about like I did so much last year taking blows because I was worried about coming anyway due to my knee so I'm literally going to go straight out this year and try wipe them straight to the floor before they get the chance to hit me, but we'll see, we'll see," he said.

Warren's opponent in the final was 17-year-old first-time contestant Jeremy Soper who left his footprint on the crowd after turning up in shorts. A fact that meant he had to improvise when it came to the traditional method of stuffing your pants with hay to limit the damage of the blows.

By the time the final came around, Soper had found a pair of pants to wear.

"Thanks goes to the guy how lent me these trousers, I couldn't have done it without him," he said.

In the end Warren was victorious to become back-to-back champion

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