The Forgotten Sport of Octopus Wrestling

One April morning in 1963, some five thousand spectators gathered on the shores of Puget Sound near the Tacoma Narrows, in Washington, to watch an unusual event—the World Octopus Wrestling Championships.

The rules were simple: teams of three divers would descend into the waters at depths between 30 to 50 feet, and try their best to grab an octopus and drag it to the surface. Whoever pulled the biggest octopus out of the water won the trophy. A total of 25 giant Pacific octopuses were captured that day, the heaviest weighing nearly 30 kg.

This rather strange sport has its beginnings in the late 1940s. In an article entitled “Octopus Wrestling Is My Hobby”, published on the April 1949 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, writer Wilmon Menard recounts a trip to Tahiti where he accompanied and aided a native hunter in killing a giant octopus featuring 25 foot tentacles. Although there is little similarity between the bloodless sport, that was to become popular less than a decade later along the West Coast of the United States, and the hunting of octopuses in the Polynesian waters, the article is generally considered to be the first published account of the sport.

One of the first world championship match, held on a rainy November day in 1957, in Tacoma, drew a crowd of two hundred.

Pictures and more HERE

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