11. Octopus-Wrestling is just as dangerous as it sounds
If you’d been alive in the mid 20th century in the West Coast of the United States, chances are you’d have seen an Octopus-Wrestling match, or perhaps even fought a cephalopod yourself. In 1963, the World Octopus Wrestling Championships were held in Puget Sound, Washington, and watched by 5, 000 spectators and countless others on TV. The sport involved divers plunging to the ocean floor and, well, wrestling octopuses. The peaceful octopus would usually cling to rocks, but a strong diver could remove them and thus provoke a fight. The diver who killed the largest octopus would win the competition.
Some of the monster specimens at the 1963 World Championships weighed around 26 kg. Time magazine even ran an article about the sport in 1965, reporting that, âalthough there are several accepted techniques for octopus wrestling, the really sporty way requires that the human diver go without artificial breathing apparatus’. Though attitudes to the octopus have certainly changed since the 1960s – in 2012, two teenagers received death-threats after killing one in West Seattle – the original wrestlers had no such qualms. âWhen you wrestle and kill an octopus, you’re ridding the marine world of a treacherous enemy’, said one determined participant.