A hard-hitting new sport is said to be gaining traction in the Russian Urals as a great stress reliever for young men -- students and professionals alike -- who are strapping on their headgear and gloves and giving it their best shots.
"Russian football" is being billed as a cross between rugby and boxing, despite looking more like the brawl that might break out at a match than any main event itself.
Russian Channel One aired a report
from Chelyabinsk that shows the obvious appeal in a country where martial arts training is popular and military service mandatory.
It quotes one young manager saying it's a great stress reliever, a la something from the mind of "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk.
And there is YouTube video
of another sports club training on a smaller scale:
Played on an area the size of a basketball court, teams literally battle it out with their fists while trying to advance a medicine ball across their opponents' goal line. The first team to seven wins.
Boxing rules apply -- so there's no kicking or hitting below the belt.
Channel One says the pastime is the invention of Chelyabinsk entrepreneur Aleksandr Tkachenko, who spread the word via social network, and boasts a growing following. Regional matches are even being set up to keep pace as the sport spreads, organizers say.
-- Andy Heil