The Toughest Sports In The World

We’ve created a list of the toughest sports in the world based on the sport’s difficulty, the danger athletes face, the different skills involved in the sport and the conditions athletes must endure in order to come out on top.

At PledgeSports, we have worked with a tonne of athletes from almost every sport known to man, to help them raise money for their sport through crowdfunding, and the 10 below are the toughest sports we’ve ever come across.

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Bull Riding

1453262043542These guys are die hard tough nuts, dedicating their lives to taming a 1600-1700 pound bull.

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Every time they saddle up in the pen, they’re getting ready to hold on for dear life as a raging bull does its best to buck the rider off its back and stomp them into the ground.


Olympic+3-day-eventer+ExponentialTraining for any sport can be difficult. The number of hours that goes into perfecting your technique or form can equate to years. But do you know what’s tougher? Training a horse. And not just training a horse for one event, but three different disciplines – dressage, cross-country and show jumping. You want tough? You got it.

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Big Wave Surfing

lairdhamilton6Every time a big wave surfer takes to the waves they are putting their lives on the line. These guys don’t just surf normal waves, but rather waves that often measure close to 100 feet.

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The sport demands incredible surfing ability and nerves of absolute steel as surfers battle unpredictable and dangerous conditions, from Ireland’s Atlantic coast to Hawaii.


Floyd Mayweather Jr., Robert GuerreroIncredibly quick footwork, the ability to throw accurate, fast and powerful punches for 12 three-minute rounds while also trying to avoid punches from an opponent who is intent on knocking you out.

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Any boxer of any level will tell you that taking blow after blow from an opponent doubles the speed at which energy drains from your body. These guys belong to the toughest sports list.


Diaz-v-McGregor2Similar to boxing in that the sport demands throwing and taking hits, MMA also requires its athletes to master an array of fighting styles which they must adopt and utilise mid-fight to get the better of their opponent. As well as this, both MMA and boxing are ranked among the toughest sports because each fight takes months of gruelling training and preparation, unlike the weekly training soccer players go through, for example.

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Water Polo

rio_olympics_water_po_webf_5With a lot of kicking and grabbing going on under the surface and all sorts of sly blows in the water, polo is highly physical. Water polo receives a boost to skill level, as the game itself is supplemented by the need to not drown during it.

Try going to your local pool and treading water for more than 30 minutes, then imagine playing an intense contact sport in that time, and you will realise why water polo is among the toughest sports.


Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in PragueEver wondered what a Super Olympics would look like? Well, that’s more or less what Decathlon is. We’re talking ten events over two days, absolute survival of the fittest. These athletes must be extremely proficient in sprinting, hurdling, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, pole vault, 400m, 1500m and javelin if they are to prevail as a winner.

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4wardRugby blends different disciplines together like power, endurance, tactical nuance, skill and mental resilience.

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The modern game sees the ball in play for longer periods of play, crossing between anaerobic and aerobic expenditure, before throwing in physical contact to sap that last bit of energy available.

Ironman Triathlon

1307283066 1600An Ironman consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km run (the equivalent of running a marathon).

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It’s one thing for them to run 26 miles, but it’s an entirely other challenge to hone a perfect technique for swimming through kilometres of ice-cold water before gathering breakneck speed on a road bike after leaving the freezing swim behind. True pioneers of our toughest sports list.


hurlingPlayed with an ash stick (hurley) and a rock-hard ball (sliotar), hurling is the fastest field sport on earth.

The skill required to control, catch, pass and score puts hurling firmly on the list of toughest sports. Couple those skills with the physical demands of 70 minutes of non-stop sprinting, tackling and tactical nuance and you would be hard-pressed to find a sport much tougher.

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Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey - Canada v SwitzerlandThe sport not only demands the ability of an elite speed skater but fantastic hand-eye coordination and control of the puck. The physical demands of the sport are so tough that in the off-season, players practice holding their breath to build their oxygen intake and increase efficiency. Taking in optimum levels of oxygen is key to keeping a player moving on the ice and able to come out on top in physical duels with the opposition.

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