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World Music Celebrations: Feats (Or Feets?) Of Strength

Lorenzo Noccioli
Wikimedia Commons
Azzurri Vs. Rossi, 2008

Each week on World Music (Saturday nights from 8-10 on KSTX 89.1 FM), I take a look at celebrations happening around the world. This week, we'll hear about an early form of football played in Italy, and a feat (or feet?) of strength in England.


Wrestling usually involves large muscular men hurling their opponents to the ground. Toe wrestling is a modification of this, into squeezing your opponent’s big toe to the mat. It all started back in Derbyshire, England in the mid ‘70s, when a couple of lads--no doubt at the local watering hole--decided to invent a sport in which the English could excel. George Burgess, the main brain behind the idea, was quite traumatized when the initial contest was won by a visiting Canadian. Happily for all concerned the title has returned to an English man, for now. The next contest takes place Saturday June 8th.


Is Calcio Storico a game of football, rugby, or a mixture of both? This wild and wooly no-holds-barred sport has been played in Florence, Italy since 1530. Not one, not two, but three former popes are known to have entered the fray. Accompanied by great pomp and ceremony, the players engage in a series of playoff games until the final match held on June 24th. The rules, such as they are, have remained unchanged over the centuries. Essentially every thing but head kicks are allowed, and it goes without saying, no protective clothing of any variety is worn. Calcio Storico is not a game for the faint hearted, either on or off the field. The prize is a pile of steaks, maybe to be applied to all those bruised and bleeding bodies.    


You can hear more about these and other celebrations happening around the world every Saturday night on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.

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Deirdre as born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and her first paid work was at the age of 10 with the BBC as an actress on "Children's Hour." She continued to perform regularly on radio and stage for the next eight years, at which point she was informed by her parents that theater was not an option and she needed "real" work.