Mard ka Dard: 5 Brutal Sports That Will Test Your Mardaangi like Nothing Else

So you do 50-kg sq lifts at the gym every day? Your benchpress record stands at an impressive 150 kg? Oh wait, did you squat 100 last night? That’s really badass stuff! Or so you think? Yo mama’s boy feels like Baahubali after just lifting a 14-kg gas cylinder, don’t you?

Well, sorry to break your egos, kids. We’ve got reasons to junk your claims of being a total #badass who’s always on #BeastMode, contrary to what your Instagram posts espouse anyway. If you think you stand and live by the motto “mard ko dard nahi hota!”, we challenge you to try your hands, feet, back, neck, head… basically anything that belongs on or in your so-called “toughened” and “gymmed” bodies at these 5 sports. 5 sports so grueling, you wish God had spared a few useless organs and replaced them with heavy testosterone bags instead. 5 sports so brutal, you’d be left wishing you were Superman with the additional healing powers of Wolverine!

  1. Rowing


♪Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream♪”

Go the lines of a popular nursery rhyme. Sure, as a kid, rowing seemed like a delight of a sport to us. Why not? There’s water, there’s splashing, there are boats, there’s racing… what’s to not like? Ask a professional rower, and he’ll tell you exactly why these childhood fantasies are nothing but a big scam!

So how strenuous can moving 2 wooden oars in circular motion be? Try it out yourself. Or maybe not, for the sake of your muscles. Instead, listen to the wise words of legendary 4-times gold-medalist Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent, who said “Towards the end, everything starts to go a bit weird, it all starts to go. Your senses are not in control anymore and they start to leave you. The hearing will go, the vision goes out of synch, there isn’t much left.” The rowing action involves a Hulk-esque amount of shoulder strength, and if the injury from a sudden jerk won’t kill you, the enormous soreness & fatigue surely with. The strain is so intense, it also forces the rower worth his salt to involve his legs so as to maintain balance even as his upper body is killing itself. If you think this is miserable, factor this – the near-death feeling starts accumulating after just a minute of rowing at that speed. A speed that is faster than the fastest human on land. A rower at the Olympic level has to maintain that level of intensity and brutality for a whole 2000 meters – 5-7 minutes approximately!

Mind you – that’s just a sprint in the world of rowing! There are races which cover 5 km, and also some marathons that are the ultimate test of a human’s physical ability – races over 100 km long that last over 12 hours! To give you a proper scientific perspective of the ruthlessness involved, “The repetitive motion in rowing fills your muscles with lactic acid, which in turn is converted into ammonia, giving you humongous headaches.” It is not uncommon to see rowers throwing up at the finish line and appearing dizzy and disoriented. Mr. Pinsent goes on to add, “The lactate kicks in after about a minute and stays there, tearing at your muscles and mind for the rest of the race. The only way to relieve the pain is to stop and that’s not going to happen.” Think you have even 1% of the strength or stamina to survive this onslaught?

2) Calcio Storico

So you like football you say? And maybe you’re also a fan of the dives of the kinds Luis Suarez or Ronaldo are (in)famous for? We bet you find Zinedine Zidane’s all-time-epic headbutt one of the most brutal moments in football history.

Kids, welcome to Calcio Storico.

An Italian game developed and played in the city of Florence, this is football with a mixture of MMA. The only rule is – There Are No Rules! Zinedine may have got a red card for headbutting Marco Materazzi, but if this was Calcio Storico, all he would have got was a laugh and a jeer from the crowd. Along with the tag of “wuss”. For, how bad is headbutting in a game which allows players to punch, kick, wrestle, choke etc in order to net a goal? In a 27-to-27 match in a single square field, with each team out to bulldoze and steamroll the opposition in order to score goals, the mayhem down there is nothing short of a war!

Needless to say, a player considered to be extremely lucky if he escapes unhurt. Getting hurt is almost like an unwritten law of the game, with each team reporting 15-20 majorly injured towards the end of the match. This brutality is also the reason the game never made it out of Florence. It is played as a local sport there and close to 7,000-10,000 spectators turn up to watch their centuries-old famous cultural sport.

Suddenly, Suarez seems really cute with his biting, doesn’t he?

3) Mallakhamb

First, a little etymology. ‘Malla’ means gymnast, and ‘khamb’ means pole. Thus, the name ‘Mallakhamb’ stands for ‘a gymnast’s pole’. Which basically translates to doing gymnastics and acrobatic stunts using a pole (or a rope, in some forms). And no, this is not some creepy pole dance by men. This is a #MadeInIndia sport that involves a core so intense, it would put an 8-pack-abbed bodybuilder to shame. It’s nearly impossible enough for 90% of us to do any form of gymnastics on the plain ground itself – now imagine doing the same while balancing on poles the height of the first-floor balcony of most residential buildings! The discipline and vigor required for this are so immense, you need to start developing and honing your skills as a child and then practice it every single day for years before you can say you do professional Mallakhamb.

What makes the sport even more dangerous is the fact that it is done without any harness of sorts. Also, all Mallas have to apply oil to their bodies in order to reduce friction and avoiding burns and rashes. Which means, not only do you run the risk of slipping, but also severely injuring yourself if you do not manage to hold on in time. Also, the balancing acts are a hundred times tougher than they look. Sample this – what if someone told you to sleep with just your feet on the bed and your body in the air. Preposterous isn’t it? “gravity!” you ask? Well, that’s exactly what you need to defy as your body lies on the pole with all weight balanced on one hand.

mallakhamb 3

Really think you can do even 1% of any of it without breaking your back/hands/legs/neck/all of the above?

4) Ice Hockey


Remember that episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Ross was hit by a puck and had to get stitches to get his nose fixed? It might have seemed funny when watching a comedy TV show, but trust us when we say IT’S SERIOUS BUSINESS! Ice hockey is another sport which seems all fun and exciting form the outset all thanks to our childhood fantasies of frolicking on the ice. How exciting does this sound though – falling headfirst on ice after slipping at high speeds; getting hit by the stick on any given part of your body in the process of battling for the puck; having the puck hit hard by a player only for it to slither in through your helmet and break your nose/eyes; banging into goal-poals or hences because of high-speed inertia acting against your braking mechanism… the list goes on. If your sadistic self is still itching to watch some blood and carnage, we suggest you check out this video-

With over 25,000 injuries reported in any given year, it is one of the deadliest sports ever played! Also, check out the various injuries a player can suffer –at

It’s not just the prospect of gruesome injuries, however, that make this sport as lethal as it is. Even without getting hurt, the sport demands a lot from you. That you have to run and balance yourself on the ice wearing metal blades is a testament to how much strain is forced on the lower body. And if that wasn’t enough, the constant stick-wielding and the need for power in shots exert tremendous pressure on your upper body too!  It is not surprising that are very few leagues played across the world despite a huge number of nations having the weather and the ability to organize ice games. Who wants’s life to be so dangerous, after all?


The terrific trio of Hrithik, Farhan, and Abhay may have given us trip goals with their movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, but in reality, their stunt of bull-racing was anything but fun. After all, whose dream fantasy is to have a bull’s horns stuck inside your butt? Racing and fighting bulls have been the favourite way of humans to impose their masculinity. So much, we even have an English phrase for it – “Taking the bull by its horns”. This is not just limited to the rodeos of Indiana or the matadors of Spain… even Indians have their own version of man-vs-bull sports in the form of Jallikattu, a culturally famous and a recently controversial sport of Tamil Nadu.

The cultural inflictions notwithstanding, messing around with 1000 kg beasts with horns is like fighting a hulk and wolverine together! There is no way you can possibly escape if a bull get’s his eye, and subsequently his horns/weight on you. A sport so brutal, one would wish it remained limited to mythological folklore. Only, it’s not!

So you still think you’re a Mard because you didn’t wince during that injection, or because you didn’t cry when the 20 kg weights fell on your feet? Real cute, kiddos! We suggest you man up!


(Inputs from TheTopTens, Sportskeeda)