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10 Most Dangerous Contact Sports

Last Updated: 16.05.22



Although most sports can make you end up with bruises, some of them are even more dangerous to practice. Check out this post if you want to go through some of the most dangerous contact sports in the world, including wrestling, which, even though it is performed on special wrestling mats while wearing the proper headgear, it can still lead to severe injuries.



For many years in a row, this sport has knocked out its competition regarding the most dangerous sport in the world. Recent studies and reports show that boxers are more prone to lose consciousness in the ring and suffer severe injuries.

The modern days of boxing have counted for nearly 60 deaths caused by knock-outs and other injuries suffered in the boxing ring since 1926. The most recent death was that of Italian fighter Christian Daghio, who was knocked to the floor twice by his opponent in November 2018.

Although his wounds were treated on the spot, he was later transported to a hospital in Bangkok where he died two days later.


The undisputed winner of the bloodiest contact sport is definitely MMA. A paper published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine states that MMA is even bloodier than boxing, counting for the biggest number of minor injuries, including bloody noses, bruises, and lacerations.



If you care about your face and don’t want to be talking to a plastic surgeon in the near future, a similar study published in 2010 in the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock suggests that kickboxing should definitely be avoided. 85% of the facial injuries happened while kickboxing count for broken noses.


Thai boxing

Also going by the name of Muay Thai, this combat sport originates from Thailand. As opposed to other types of martial arts, in Thai boxing fighters are allowed to use their legs, knees, elbows, and both hands to attack their opponents.

Thai boxing has strongly influenced kickboxing, another contact sport that has become extremely popular in Europe and North America.

However, it also counts for the biggest number of facial lacerations that required medical attendance and stitching. Therefore, we strongly suggest you stay away from this sport, especially since you won’t be using protective helmets.



A decent fifth position in our list is occupied by one of the oldest sports in the world, wrestling. It has been a part of the modern Olympic Games from the beginning, but evidence shows that wrestling was extremely popular in ancient times as well. In fact, wrestling appears in ancient mythology through gods like Zeus and heroes like Heracles.

This combat sport involves various grappling techniques like takedowns, clinch fighting, and grappling holds to take the opponent to the mat and earn as many points as possible.

And, although competitors use protective gear like helmets, knee pads, and mouth guards, this doesn’t mean they will be leaving the mat without a scratch. Some of the most common injuries in wrestling include bruises or contusions, lacerations, and sprained ankles.


American football

This full-contact sport remains the most popular in North America, although it is quite dangerous. Over a period of 13 years, from 1989 to 2002, there were only 94 players who reported catastrophic and life-threatening injuries in the football field. Out of these, eight people died as a direct result of these injuries.

Unfortunately, deaths on college school football fields are on the rise, as players are exposed to tremendous efforts to stay in shape and push their limits. And, although athletes engaging in this sport wear full protective gear, this doesn’t keep them away from strokes or exhaustion. Sprains, bruises, concussions, and bleeding are not uncommon either.


Ice hockey

Extremely popular in Canada and the US, ice hockey is another full-contact sport that can cause a wide array of injuries. A seven-year study conducted by researchers showed that there are three main causes of injuries in this sport – body checking, stick, and puck contact.

The vast majority of injuries caused by sticks were located around the head area. However, the incidence of severe injuries is lower than in other contact sports like wrestling, MMA, boxing, and Muay Thai.

In ice hockey, most players that were injured returned on the ice within one week, and only 14% of them required more than three weeks off to heal their injuries.



Our last activity on the list of full contact sports refers to judo. Some of the most common injuries reported while practicing it include collateral ligament injuries, meniscus injuries, concussions, dislocated elbows, fractures, and ankle sprains. Although lacerations or open wounds are less likely to occur, they shouldn’t be ruled out entirely.

Head wounds are also common, alongside back and neck pains since the judokas don’t wear any protective gear. Knees and shoulders represent the most vulnerable body parts when practicing this sport.


The second most popular American sport after football, baseball has a rather short but fulfilling history. It was first played in England in the 18th century and it is considered a limited contact sport. Nevertheless, it does count for numerous severe injuries, mainly caused by opponent clashes and balls.

The most common injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, and cuts, although severe head injuries and concussions were also reported. Studies in the field showed that pitchers were 34% more likely to suffer from injuries than fielders. Also, the upper part of the body (especially the head) was twice as affected by injuries than the lower part, including legs and ankles.



Believe it or not, water polo is considered a rather dangerous sport, although there is limited contact between players. However, as opposed to other sports, this one requires strong lungs and perfect swimming abilities, which makes it more demanding.

Polo players wear protective helmets but this doesn’t fully eliminate the risk of getting head injuries, including concussions. Apart from that, other common injuries experienced by polo players include back pains, facial injuries and open wounds, and the patellofemoral pain syndrome.




Leave a comment


Albert G

December 15, 2020 at 2:01 pm

where’s rugby, I’m 100% sure it is more dangerous than water polo or baseball


November 15, 2020 at 11:13 pm

You should check out Irish Hurling

Stephanie Gendez

October 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm

Why not soccer


October 26, 2020 at 8:33 am

Hi Stephanie. While soccer can surely be dangerous, I believe the 10 sports mentioned in the article are more dangerous.

Aleena B

March 6, 2020 at 12:49 am

Why is all star cheer not on here??
I don’t know why it is not
Cheer is more dangerous than football just look it up


July 17, 2020 at 7:53 am



March 9, 2020 at 9:59 am

Hi Aleena. Thank you for your input. I’ll check this out and update the page if necessary.

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