North America

Tarahumara (Mexico)

Name of sport (game): Lucha Tarahumara also Najarapuami, Narajapuame, Tarahumara running
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

There are currently about 50,000 Tarahumara living in the Sierra Madre Occidental in northwestern Mexico. They live in small isolated clusters with most the population concentrated in the Barranca del Cobre, or the Copper Canyon. The Tarahumara indians are part of the Uto-Aztecan indian lineage and are closely related to the Apaches of the Southwestern United States. The area of Northwest Mexico that the Tarahumara lives in is very rugged and unforgiving. The Barranca del Cobre is a chain of five very deep canyons surrounded by very tall mountains that reach almost a mile and a half above sea level. Three of the five canyons are deeper than the Grand Canyon of the United States. The area is different though because it receives much more rainfall and is covered with more vegetation. The terrain is very rugged, so much as to lead to the fact that the area has never been thoroughly mapped or explored (Lutz 66). The area is one of th e coldest in Mexico and soil conditions are very poor. It is because of this that the Tarahumara are semi-nomadic and are cave dwellers for part of the year.

Tarahumara Region of Chihuahua
Tarahumara region


The statement that, "The Tarahumara may be the finest natural distance runners in the world", made by University of Arizona archeologist Michael Jenk inson, offers some insight into just how good the indians are at running. The Tarahumara routinely run distances only covered by only the most advanced ultramarathon runners today. To these indians, running is more than sport, running is literally life. The Tarahumara live in very rugged land and travel by wagon or horses is usually impractical. Because of this, foot travel is more often than not the best option for getting from one place to another and it is usually the quickest. While on foot, the Tarahumara do not stroll from one place to their destination, running is used to perform everyday tasks. It is not uncommon for a Tarahumara to travel between fifty and eighty miles everyday at a "race" like pace.

Running is very important to the Tarahumara culture, although there is no formal training. Quite the opposite, the Tarahumara smoke and drink before each race. While even the children participate, it is not something taught to them. The Tarahumara call themselves "raramuri" which means fleet foot or foot runner. They take great pride in their running abilities and the best runners receive great status in society. They center the entire society around their running. Says anthropologist John Kennedy, "Running is more than a game to the Tarahumara. Though obviously a pleasant diversion, it is also an economic activity, a force for social cohesion, and a channel of aggression....If this institution were removed from Tarahumara life, the total cultural imbalance resulting would be greater than if some sporting activity were dropped from our own complex culture".

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Tarahumara running is based on endurance not speed. This fact is exemplified by their hunting practices. In order to catch such wild animals as deer, wild turkeys, and rabbits, the Tarahumara simply chase after the animal until the animal drops from exhaustion. Their hunting practices are widely known in Mexico and ranchers have been known to hire the indians to chase down wild horses . It is also said that a Tarahumara once ran six hundred miles in five days to deliver a very important message. Their endurance and conditioning has become k nown worldwide. Says Dale Groom, M.D., "Probably not since the days of the ancient Spartans has a people achieved such a high state of physical conditioning." This phenomenon has led to the inevitable question of, "Are the Tarahumara genetically special when it comes to running?" After many scientific tests, doctors have come to the conclusion that the Tarahumara's endurance is based more on conditioning than on heredity. Experts believe that there are two main causes for the Tarahumara's amazing endurance; physical conditioning and cultural importance. Diet also seems to play an important role in their running. The Tarahumara diet is practically meatless and consists mostly of complex carbohydrates. They eat approximately 10 percent proteins, 10 percent fat, and 80 percent complex carbohydrate. Balanced diet is believed to be one factor behind the Tarahumara's resiliency. The Tarahumara take cooperative farming to the extreme and agriculture is a project for the entire village. They consume livestock for meat but mostly use it as a source of fertilizer. The mainstay of the Tarahumara is corn but they also eat squash, beans and chili. They also utilize all plants of the Barranca del Cobre and have even been known to domesticate some wild plants as to make them more accessible for consumption. Pinole, a fine powder of toasted corn is the most common food. Meat is rarely eaten but on special occasions they eat goat, mice and fish. The Tarahumara method of fishing is very unusual. They throw sticks of dynamite into the water to stun the fish and then dive down to collect them. If they are hunting small game, they chase after it and then throw rocks a t it. The Tarahumara is very accurate throwers and practice from childhood. These extreme eating habits seem to contribute to lower pulse rates and blood pressure. These factors may allow them to cope with oxygen debt at high altitudes, such as a mile and a half above sea level.

The Tarahumara culture involves two very significant features that deal with running, the rarajipari and the dowerami, which are races in which people of the same sex compete. The rarajipari is for men and is the more competitive of the two. It is a race run between two teams each of three to ten men. The intriguing thing about the race is that men on the teams kick along a wooden, baseball-shaped ball as they run. Each man takes his turn dribbling the ball in a style similar to soccer and the total distance run may be up to one hundred and fifty miles. The races take place over very rugged terrain. The courses are either not marked or marked with rocks and sticks. The races are very competitive because they are run between neighboring villages and much pride is involved. Much betting goes on and cheating often takes place. There is also a lot of ritual and superstition involved during the race and in pre-race competition. Each team has there own medicine man who is responsible for conjuring up special potions to help the runners and to cast bad luck on the opposing team. Runners smoke and drink right until the day of the race. They ritualistically drink tesguino, an alcohol made of corn the night before the race. Runners often smoke a combination of tobacco and dried bats' blood to help them run faster and keep away the other team's spirits. The medicine man also digs up a dead person's shin bone, crushes it into a powder and spreads it over the race course. The man's spirit supposedly casts bad luck on the runners from the other team. Runners are very superstitious and drop out of races from fear, but never from exhaustion. Team members also avoid contact with women for several days before the race.

The women also run a similar race called the dowerami. The difference between the two races is that women throw and catch interconnected loops while they run. Most rules still apply but the women's race is less important to their society. Both types of races are major social events and are very fun to the Tarahumara. Everyone comes out to watch and offers food to runners.

Current status:

Tarahumara public racing began at the 1928 Olympic marathon. The two indians that were running were not aware of the distance and when they finished, they were not tired and said, "Too short! Too short!" The Tarahumara first appeared on the Ultramarathon circuit in 1992 at the Leadville 100-mile run in Colorado. They were brought from Mexico and funded while they were here by Rick Fisher, operator of Wilderness Research Expeditions. Fisher is disliked in the Ultra community because he is thought to be loud, outspoken, and rude. It is also believed that he uses the plight of the Tarahumara simply to gain attention for himself and for his organization. In their first race, none of the Tarahumara finished. In 1993, Fisher tried again but this time he familiarized the indians with the course, the equipment and the American racing customs . In 1992 the Tarahumara had many problems. First, they were unfamiliar with the course. Second, they did not know how to use the equipment. At night, they ran with their flashlights pointing up likes the torches that they are used to. Third, at aid stations they simply stood there and therefore received little nutrition and became weak and dehydrated. In their culture is not polite just to take food. They wait until it is offered. In the 1993 Leadville they fared much better. Tarahumaras took first, second and fifth place. The most amazing thing about the indians was their pace. The winner was fifty-five years old and only ran the second half of the race twenty minutes slower than he ran the first! Another thing that shocks the ultra spectators is Tarahumara footwear. They wear sandals called huaraches made out of old tire tread and leather straps. A Tarahumara won Leadville again in 1994. Later that same year in Utah at the Wasatch 100-Mile run, the Tarahumara were part of a controversy. Someone did not pay their entry fees so they weren't allowed be official runners. They ran unofficially and a Tarahumara was the first to cross the finish line. This greatly upset race officials and the second person to cross the finish line had to be declared the official winner. The undertaking of the Tarahumara runners was at the Angeles Crest 100-mile Endurance Run in September 1996. They did not fare well and only one of four entrants finished, in fourth place. It is believed that they went out too fast and became dehydrated .

Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

The Tarahumara are still running and will continue to do so until their extinction. They are a very unique group of people with very different ideas about the way to live life. They are a society which many can learn from, not only in the running world but in many other areas of life. The Tarahumaras should be respected for the feats they have accomplished and be left alone to live in peace.

Sources of information :

Cassel, Jonathan F. 1969. Tarahumara Indians. Gainesville, FL: Naylor
Fontana, Bernard L. 1979. Tarahumara: where night is the day of the moon. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland.
Irigoyen-Rascón, Fructuoso, and Jesus M. Palma-Batista. 1994. Rarajípare: the kick ball race of the Tarahumara Indians. Chihuahua, Mexico: Centra Librero de la Prensa, Sucursal Universidad.
Tarahumara medicine: ethnobotany and healing among the Rarámuri of Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Tarahumara of the Sierra Madre. Pacific Grove, CA: Asilomar.
McDougall, Christopher. 2009. Born to run: a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen. New York: Knopf.
Merrill, William. 1988. Rarámuri souls: knowledge and social process in northern Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Nabokov, Peter. 1981. Indian running: Native American history and tradition. Santa Barbara, CA: Capra.
Pennington, Campbell W. 1963. The Tarahumara of Mexico. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press
Pintado Cortina, Ana Paula. 2004. Tarahumaras. Mexico: Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo.
Los hijos de Riosi y Riablo, fiestas grandes y resistencia cultural en una comunidad Tarahumara de la Barranca. Mexico: Instituto National de Antropología e Historia
Thord-Gray, Ivor. 1955. Tarahumara-English, English-Tarahumara dictionary. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press
Lutz, Dick and Mary. The Running Indians. Salem, Oregon: Dimi Press, 1989


Balke, Bruno, and Clyde Snow. 1965. Anthropological and physiological observations on Tarahumara endurance runners. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 23:293–301.
Bennett, W. C., and R. M. Zingg. 1935. The Tarahumara: an Indian tribe of northern Mexico. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Champion, J. R. 1955. Acculturation among the Tarahumara of Northwest Mexico since 1890. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences 17(7):560–566.
Christensen, Dirk L., Imelda Alcalá-Sánchez, Irene Leal-Berumen, Miguel Conchas-Ramirez, and Soren Brage. 2012. Physical activity, cardio-respiratory fitness, and metabolic traits in rural Mexican Tarahumara. American Journal of Human Biology 24:558–561.
Clegg, R. S. 1972. Tarahumara Indians. Rocky Mountain Medical Journal 69:57–58
Goldberg, Ryan. 2017. The drug runners. Texas Monthly 45:77–138
Groom, Dale. 1971. Cardiovascular observations on the Tarahumara Indian runners: modern day Spartans. American Heart Journal 81:304–318.
Irigoyen-Rascón, Fructuoso, and Alfonso Paredes. 2015. Tarahumara medicine: ethnobotany and healing among the Rarámuri of Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. [FSW]
Kennedy, John G. 1963. Tesgüino complex: the role of beer in Tarahumara culture. American Anthropologist 65:620–640
La carerra de bola Tarahumara y son significacíon. América Indigena 29:17–42
Inapuchi: una communidad Tarahumara gentil. Mexico City: Instituto Indigena Interamericano.
Kummels, Ingrid. 2001. Reflecting diversity: variants of the legendary footraces of the Rarámuri in northern Mexico. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 66(1):73–98. [FSW]
Levi, Jerome M. 1998. The bow and the blanket: religion, identity, and resistance in Rarámuri material culture. Journal of Anthropological Research 54:299–324.
Hidden transcripts among the Rarámuri: culture, resistance, and interethnic relations in northern Mexico. American Ethnologist 26:90–113
Tarahumara (Rarámuri). In The Oxford encyclopedia of Mesoamerican cultures, vol. 3. David Carrasco, ed. Pp. 183–185. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tarahumara shamanism. In Shamanism: an encyclopedia of world beliefs, practices, and culture, vol. 1. Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Friedman, eds. Pp. 453–461. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO
John Kennedy and the Tarahumara. Anales de Antropología 47:163–171
Strike type variation among Tarahumara Indians in minimal sandals versus conventional running shoes. Journal of Sports Health Science 3:86–94.
Norman, James. 1976. The Tarahumaras: Mexico’s long distance runners. National Geographic 149:702–708.
La carrera de bola entre los Rarámuri de México: un problema de difusión. Originally 1970 América Indígena 30(1). Chihuahua, México: Energía=Control, A.H., Ediciones
Plymire, Darcy C. 1983. The legend of the Tarahumata: tourism, overcivilization, and the white man’s Indian. In Native Americans and sport in North America. C. Richard King, ed. Pp. 17–29. London: Routledge.
The legend of the Tarahumara: tourism, overcivilization and the white man’s Indian. International Journal of the History of Sport 23(2):154–166. [FSW]
Rivera-Morales, J., L. A. V. Guadarrama, and S. Sotuyo. 2019. Una mirada antropológica a la resistencia física de los rarámuri. Anales de Antropología 53(1):89–99. [FSW]
Wallace, Ian J., Elizabeth Koch, Nicholas B. Holowka, and Daniel E. Lieberman. 2018. Heel impact forces during barefoot versus minimally shod walking among Tarahumara subsistence farmers and urban Americans. Royal Society Open Science 5:180044
The semiotics of powerful places: rock art and landscape relations in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Research 67(3):387–420. [FSW]
Severance, Peter, The Legend of the Tarahumara, in Runner's World. Dec . 1993, p. 74
Williams, Kitty, The Incredible Feat (Or is it feet?) Of the Tarahumara, Ultrarunning. October 1993, p. 8
Daniel E. Lieberman, Mickey Mahaffey, Silvino Cubesare Quimare, Nicholas B. Holowka, Ian J. Wallace, and Aaron L. Baggish, "Running in Tarahumara (Rarámuri) Culture: Persistence Hunting, Footracing, Dancing, Work, and the Fallacy of the Athletic Savage," Current Anthropology 61, no. 3 (June 2020): 356-379.



Source of photos used in this article and gallery:




Side-Hold (USA, Canada)

Name of sport (game): Side-Hold
Name in native language: Side-Hold
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

United States and Canada


The Side-Hold was a North American fixed hold folk wrestling style which in the XIX century was very popular among the farmers of British descent who were residents of the Midwest of United States and the Province of Ontario, Canada (Province of Upper Canada in the 1800s).

Despite being of English origin the Side-Hold wrestling style was long forgotten and unknown in England in the 1800s. The most famous visualizations of the old English Side-Hold wrestling match are the following:

1) A XII century sculpture at the Church of St Mary and St David, Kilpeck (Herefordshire)

This Norman artwork shows two men standing side to side having their inside arms around each others bodies, and one of the wrestlers is grabbing the other by the elbow with the hand of his outside arm.

Notably, this sculpture is not the only image of wrestlers in that church the other one shows two wrestlers in old English Back-Hold, the “Hug.”

Side Hold Kilpeck

2) A XIV century roof boss sculpture from the St Lawrence Church, Lechlade (Gloucestershire).

Roof Boss Side Hold

3) A XVI century misericord wood carving at the Ely Cathedral, City of Ely (Cambridgeshire).

Both these pieces of art portray two men standing side to side having collar holds of each other with the hands of their inside arms and hands of their outside arms are clasped.

Ely Catherdral Wrestling

Among the famous practitioners of Side-Hold wrestling were: the future president of the United States Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) during his early years in Illinois (1830s) and the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844) during his years in Kirtland, Ohio (1830s). The great Iowans, the “Father of American Pro Wrestling” Martin “Farmer” Burns (1861-1937) as well as his most famous student Frank Alvin Gotch (1877-1917) who became the greatest American pro wrestler of the XX century in the years of their youth were both adepts in the Side-Hold wrestling.

In the 1600s and 1700s North American (or Colonial) wrestling customs weren’t much different from those of the contemporary English. In general the wrestling matches were played either out of interest (amateur) or for a small purse (semi-professional). Those contests were usually held on such days as May Day, Good Friday, Whit Monday, Shrove Tuesday, Wakes, and other folk and religious festivals and even on the Sunday markets. These practices were brought to America by English pioneers among other their customs and pastimes.

During that era, North American wrestling was represented by the following styles of English origin: Arm's Length (after the Norfolk fashion), Close Struggle (after the Bedfordshire fashion), Cornish/Devon catch-hold of the jackets above the waist, old English Back-Hold or the “Hug” (archaic trial of strength in which wrestling techniques weren’t allowed and physical strength was a decisive factor), and English Catch-Hold of the body above the waist.

There also was the “Run, Catch and Throw” style of wrestling, which was a standing catch-as-catch-can style presumably of Germanic origin. According to the famous master of arms and wrestling scholar from Milan (Italy) named Pietro Monti (1457-1509) the wrestling customs of Germanic people allowed holds of any part of the person’s body in wrestling matches. The practice of unrestrained wrestling style in Medieval Continental Western European countries with the population of Germanic ethnic background is well documented.

Among the white settlers of North America along with wrestling styles of European heritage were also popular the Native American wrestling games such as “Indian Hug” (Back Hold) and Indian free-for-all wrestling (up and down catch-as-catch-can). In America during that era an organized wrestling prize-ring, unlike in England, didn’t exist.

In different parts of the United States different wrestling styles prevailed. The Eastern men (Yankees) preferred Square-Hold (which is Collar and Elbow, or wrestling at Arm’s Length), those from the Middle States – Side-Hold, and the Southern and Western men used Breeches Hold and old Indian Hug.

The most popular American folk wrestling styles were Collar and Elbow (fixed hold wrestling at Arm’s Length, which featured the art of Hooking Legs, Tripping and Kicking) and Side-Holds (a fixed hold variation of Close Struggle, or Hugging and Heaving which featured the famous Hip-Lift Technique). Both those styles were descendants of historical English folk styles such as “Collar Wrestling” and “Girdle (Holdster) Wrestling.” Those two styles at some point of their evolution merged into what became known as the Catch-Hold of jackets above the waist or Cornish/Devon Wrestling. In America medieval English folk wrestling the condition of grasping alike and maintaining the original hold (fixed hold wrestling or a “fair wrestle”), unlike in England, remained unchanged till the end of XIX century.

In the 1860s the American pro wrestling ring was finally established being exclusively represented by the following wrestling styles: Collar-and-elbow, Side-Hold, Cumberland and Westmorland Back-Hold and Cornish catch-hold of the jackets above the waist. During that era the professional Lancashire catch wrestling matches were also contested. Those were mainly restricted to the mining communities of immigrants from East Lancashire or West Riding of Yorkshire outside which Lancashire wrestling was unknown. In 1864 the first ever official American Pro Side-Hold Wrestling Championship (Shoulder and Hip variation of Side-Hold) was decided in New Yorks City at the Cremorne Gardens (corner of 72 Str. and 3 Ave.). A sum of $1000 was at stake in that 2 out of 3 fair back falls match. A New Jersey athlete called Uzile Pricket, who was considered the best overall pro wrestler of United States defeated Harry Hill of New York (late of Epsom, England) 2 falls to none.

In the early 1870 the International Wrestling Tournament Association for professionals was established in Detroit, MI. The president of that organization was Mr. Thomas Lewis of Detroit. First official Championship of United States and Canada in 3 styles (Collar and Elbow, Side-Hold, and Back-Hold) was held at Young Men’s Hall in Detroit on March 10th, 1870. The fair back fall (2 shoulders and 1 hip or 2 hips and 1 shoulder down flat at the same time) constituted the victory in all contests. Breaking hold or three “files” (foils, falls on any part of the body) also constituted a fall. Side-Hold contestants had the choice of upper and under holds by lot, unless they otherwise agreed. The Side-hold Championship was won by James Defoe of Detroit who was awarded a gold medal symbolic of this title. At first Defoe beat William Bell of London, Ontario (1-0), then beat Mathew Brown of London, Ontario (1-0), after that he beat Bell (1-0) again, and finally beat Brown (1-0) one more time. The organizers were thinking to make such championships annual like it was in London, England for Cumberland/Westmorland and Cornish/Devon styles, but that never happened. The 1870 tourney remained one of a kind pro wrestling championship of North America which was decided in the most popular folk wrestling styles.

NPG Side Hold


In the American Side-Hold contest both parties stood side to side facing one way (forward) usually clasping hands of their outside arms (sometimes by the mutual agreement they would decide to grab by either outside wrists, elbows, or shoulders); with their inside arms and hands they took the “over” and “under” holds respectively.

In the Canadian Side-Hold match the wrestlers stood side to side and were clutching with the hands of their outside arms a four inch woven ring; with the hands of their inside arms they took the “over” and “under” holds respectively.

Usually the men tossed coin for a choice of holds, the winner could take either the “over” or the “under” hold. Among the wrestlers the under-hold was considered advantageous, because it allowed easier levering of the opponent and throwing him down.

Historically, the over-hold was usually taken by the wrestler’s collar (usually a special kind of tie worn around the neck) and the under-hold was taken by the wrestler’s girdle (waist-band, stout leather belt). In the Middle Ages English pro wrestlers were wearing those “wrestling tools” to apply holds at during the match.

Sometimes wrestlers would agree to take inside holds by either the collars only (“one hand to collar”) or by the belts only (“one hand to the belt”). But the most common way of taking holds was the mentioned above combination of collar and belt holds.

It appears that in the Medieval English Side-Hold wrestlers had to fight with their inside and outside arms and hands for the better holds. In that case inside holds were taken by either collars or belts and outside holds were taken by the hands, wrists or elbows. That probably caused a lot of breaking of the previously taken holds in order to achieve the most advantageous hold. Basically Medieval Side-Hold was a catch-hold style of wrestling. This practice definitely prolonged the contests and being considered unnecessary or even unfair over the time was discontinued. It was decided to make Side-Hold a fixed hold wrestling style with a fair play based on the coin toss.

The fair back fall signified victory in the Side-Hold contests. The definition of a fair back fall varied depending on the mutual agreement between the wrestlers. It was either traditional English combination of “shoulders and hips” (3 or 4 points down back fall) or modern American rule of “two shoulders” striking the ground simultaneously. The man whose back touched the floor first lost the match; any attempt to pull or turn opponent over wasn’t counted. Letting go the initial hold wasn’t allowed. Either man was allowed to drop on one or both his knees and rise again. Kicking, or grabbing either leg was considered unfair. Usually matches were played for one fall, 2 out of 3, or 3 out of 5 falls. Ten to twenty minute breaks were allowed between the falls.

In 1883 National Police Gazette of New York City released the standard Side-Hold Rules for American pro wrestlers. According to those rules each wrestler had to wear during the match the set of strong leather or Webb harness, which must reach from the shoulder to the waist and from the neck to the elbow. The coin toss decided the choice of holds which could be either the “right and over” (wrestler takes hold of opponent’s harness behind the right shoulder with his right hand) or the “left and under” (wrestler takes hold of opponent’s harness at the waist with his left hand).

The most commonly used Side-Hold wrestling strategy was to swing suddenly or more effectively to get the knee behind that of the other wrestler and throw backward. Among other wrestling techniques popular in the Side-Hold contests were: The Hank, The Inside Lock Forward (performed both ways, forward or backward), The Cross-buttock (performed both ways, arm around the neck or arm around the body), The Buttock.

Side Hold Match

Current status:

With popularization of Graeco-Roman and Catch-as-catch-can in the United States the traditional American folk wrestling styles such as Collar and Elbow and Side-Hold lost their significance and by the mid 1890s ceased to exist as pro wrestling styles. The industrialization put an end to the practice of old rural wrestling styles in the farmers’ communities of North America as well. In the 1880s Side-Hold wrestling along with Collar and Elbow and Back-Hold was still taught in most prestigious colleges around the USA as part of their physical education program, but it soon was replaced with the Amateur Catch-as-catch-can of German Gymnastic Societies (Turners Catch). It was the birth of American amateur wrestling in America. Currently Side-Hold wrestling is not practiced anymore.

Sources of information :

This article is based on “The Story of Catch” (2019), by Ruslan C Pashayev.

Pelota Mixteca (Mexico)

Name of sport (game): Pelota Mixteca
Name in native language: Pelota MIxteca
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):


The game is played in many places of Oaxaca, Mexico City. Besides Pelota Mixteca has emigrated to the United States as well as the people , so is very common to find places in California and Texas where the game has been adopted as an important cultural heritage.


Mixtec ball is an autochthon five team game between two opposing teams which has its roots in the Mesoamerican ball game.
This game represents the fight of two teams for territory.
Each player is placed strategically in the court to hit the ball. Court is composed in two areas: Service area and a baseline at the back. The game starts with a service throwing the ball which needs to bounce in a stone located on the floor, the ball returns to service area and the team in this area must hit the ball again and again.

The ball moves between the two teams until the ball is out . The score is very similar to a tennis game, the difference consist that only 3 games are required for a set. The court also called “pasajuego” is a clay court with a length of 100 meters x 9 meters of height.

The glove. Before 1900’s the Pelota Mixteca was played only with hands and this technique was called “cold hands”, players used to put leather on their hand in order to protect them for heavy ball punches, this protection has evolutioned into a glove. Current glove weight is between 3.5 to 6 kilos and it is made of layers of leathers and steel nails. Each glove is considered a craft due each one is unique in weight, size and design.

Pelota Mixteca5
The ball is a vulcanized rubber with 900 grams of weight and approximately 12 cm. of length-

Pelota Mixteca de forro ball
Players . Everyone can play pelota mixteca, there is not age restriction, however there are 3 major categories : first, second and third division, the experience, performance and skills which depends on.

Current status:



Pelota mixteca tradición viva 
Pelota mixteca tradicin viva

Pelota Mixteca Oaxaca 
Tel. +52 951 260 0661
Pelota Mixteca Oaxaca logo

Pelota Mixteca San Martín Tilcajete 
Pelota Mixteca San Martin

Pelota mixteca San Jose el Mogote 

Pelota Mixteca Los Ahijados 

Pelota Mixteca Nochixtlan Oax. 
Pelota Mixteca Nochixtlan

Pelota Mixteca Tamazulapam 
Pelota Mixteca Tamazulapam

Pelota Mixteca Arellanes 
Pelota Mixteca Arellanes

Pelota Mixteca Xitle CDMX 
Pelota Mixteca Xitle CDMX

Pelota Mixteca Manzanos 

Asociation de la Pelota Mixteca de California Central

Pelota Mixteca San Fernando California 

Pelota Mixteca Dallas Texas 

Japan Pelota Mixteca Association 

Sources of information :

Books and articles:
- Agrinier, Pierre 1991 The Ball Courts of Southern Chiapas, Mexico. In The Mesoamerican Ballgame, edited by David R. Wilcox and Vernon L. Scarborough, pp. 175–194. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
- Alvarado, Francisco de 1593 Vocabulario Mixteca. Vocabulario en lengua mixteca hecho por los Padres de la Orden de Predicadores, Mexico.
- Becquelin, Pierre, and Eric Bosc 1972 Notas sobre los yacimientos de albita y jadeita de San Cristobal Acasaguastlan, Guatemala. Estudios de Cultura Maya IX:67–74. Universidad Nacional de Autonóma de México, Mexico.
- Bernal, Ignacio 1968 The Ball Players of Dainzú. Archaeology 21:246–251.
- Bernal, Ignacio 1969 El juego más antiguo. Artes de México XV Aniversario 119:28–33.
- Bernal, Ignacio, and Andy Seuffert 1979 The Ball Players of Dainzú. Akademische Druck- u Verlaganstalt, Graz.
- Bolaños Cacho, Raúl 1946 Reglamento de pelota Mixteca. Dirección de Educación Física, Oaxaca.
- Borhegyi, Stephan F. De 1964–1965 Archaeological Synthesis of the Guatemala Highlands. In Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 2, pt. 1, edited by Robert E. Wauchope and Gordon R. Willey, pp. 3–58. University of Texas Press, Austin.
- Braniff, Beatríz 1988 A propósito del Ulama en el norte de México. Arqueología 3:47–94. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico.
- Cohodas, Marvin 1991 Ballgame Imagery of the Maya Lowlands: History and Iconography. In The Mesoamerican Ballgame, edited by David R. Wilcox and Vernon L. Scarborough, pp. 251–288. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
- Cortés Ruiz, Efraín 1992 El juego de pelota Mixteca. In El juego de pelota precolombino y su perviviencia en la actualidad, pp. 169–177. Museu Etnologic, Ajuntamento de Barcelona.
- Fidel 1846 Costumbres nacionales (juego de pelota). Revista Mexicana II:28–30.
- Gaxiola, Margarita 1984 Huamelulpan Un centro urbano de la Mixteca Alta. Colección Científica No. 114. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico.
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Una Tar Taq (Inuit)

Name of sport (game): Una Tar Taq
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Inuit people


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