Monday, December 06, 2010

Part Two of The World's Wackiest Sports - Ferret Legging

What do coal miners do for fun in Yorkshire, England? They partake in a sport that involves these three things: trousers, a ferret, and the ability to endure a fully fanged ferret shoved inside one's trousers.

The sport is surprisingly simple:

Contestants tie their trousers at the ankles, then drop two ferrets inside and fasten their belts to prevent the animals from escaping. The man that lasts the longest wins.

Lest they have sneaky contestants, judges make sure that the ferrets aren't sedated and the contestants aren't drunk. The ferrets must have a mouth's full of teeth - unfiled or otherwise blunted. Their nails mustn't have been clipped. Oh, and in case anyone asks: no underwear, please. The trousers must be loose so the ferret can move from ankle to ankle.

The sport involves little innate talent, except for the ability of ignoring a nasty bite to one's ....... well, you get the picture!

Indeed, before entering a competition, males "whose families are not yet complete" are required to have written permissions from their partners.

The ferrets are occasionally put inside the contestants' shirts in addition to their trousers. An attempt to introduce a female version of the sport—ferret busting, in which female contestants introduced ferrets down their blouses—proved unsuccessful.

So how long do you think people last with ferrets rummaging around in their trousers? A couple of seconds? A few minutes? Half an hour?

On 5 July 1981, retired miner Reg Mellor, from Barnsley, set a new world record time of five hours and twenty-six minutes at the 'Annual Pennine Show' at Holmfirth, Yorkshire. He had practised the sport since his youth, but had received no recognition until he set the new world record.

Mellor, who had hunted with ferrets in the dales outside of Barnsley for many years, had grown accustomed to keeping them in his trousers to keep them warm and dry when out working in the rain. Mellor's "trick" was to ensure that the ferrets were well-fed before they were inserted into his trousers.

Frank Bartlett, a retired headmaster, and Christine Farnsworth, broke Mellor's record in 2010. The pair managed five hours and thirty minutes, raising £1,000 for the Whittington Community First Responders.

Ferret legging has existed for centuries. Following a brief resurgence in popularity during the 1970's, ferret legging has been described as a "dying sport", that according to a 2005 report published in the 'English Northern Echo' newspaper, is being replaced by ferret racing, in which the animals race through a plastic pipe.

Although the sport is now uncommon, you don't have to trek to the coal country of Yorkshire, England to find the sport of ferret legging - a national 'ferret legging' competition has been held at the Richmond Highland Games and Celtic Festival in Richmond, Virginia, USA, since 2003,

In 2007, the 'Manitoba Ferret Association' held a ferret legging competition in St. Vital Park, Winnipeg, Canada to raise money in support of the organization's shelter for homeless ferrets.

According to Kelly Yager of the 'Manitoba Ferret Association,' the animals actually like small, confined spaces.

Marlene Blackburn, who works with the 'Ferret Rescue League' to ensure that no ferrets are harmed in the sport, claims that during the years the competitions have been held in Richmond no contestant has ever been bitten, although some may get a few scratches.

Jay Lugar, spokesman for the Richmond Highland Games & Celtic Festival, said ferrets are "generally very harmless, fun-loving creatures."

Louis Mahoney of the 'Richmond Times-Dispatch' newspaper said it is "sure to bring a laugh."

The magazine 'Cracked' listed it as the fifth "most baffling" sport in the world.

Rick Reilly, American sportswriter for ESPN, a worldwide leader in sports coverage, tried ferret legging as part of his quest to find "the world's dumbest sport" for a book he published on the 4th May 2010 called "Sports from Hell."

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