And You Thought Powerslap Was Weird: Sport of Ear Pulling Goes Viral

You’ve heard of arm wrestling, but what about ear pulling? A rather gruesome and painful traditional sport practiced by the Inuit people in the Arctic has been going viral lately on social media.

The rules are simple: two contestants sit face-to-face with legs intertwined. An elastic strap is looped around one ear of each person, connecting left ear to left ear or right to right. The opponents then pull back, trying to snap the strap or force their opponent to lunge forward in agony until submitting.

It may sound excruciating, but proponents view ear pulling as a test of strength and endurance. Matches are intense, with contestants at risk of bloody ears, tears, and other injuries from the violent tugging. In fact, the extreme nature of the sport has led to its exclusion from some Arctic sports competitions over safety concerns.

Despite the cringe-worthy visuals, ear pulling has drawn fascination online, with clips of legendary competitors racking up millions of views. Perhaps the most famous ear puller was the late James Lampe of Alaska, known as “The Stone Cold Killer” for his ability to maintain a steely expression through the pain.

Lampe was a dominant force, defeating opponents young and old in viral matches year after year until his death from cancer in 2016 at age 49. In one unforgettable clip, Lampe’s ear begins bleeding profusely mid-match, but the indomitable veteran refuses to submit.

So while the new slap-fighting league may have sparked outrage for its brutality, it has some serious competition for most bizarre combat sport from the centuries-old tradition of ear pulling.