The 7 Most Popular Sports in Russia and How Long They Have Been Played

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Written by Rob Hayek

Published: January 5, 2024

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Russia has had a unique history with sports. There have been many memorable moments. Also, the country has fielded many great sports with many historic moments.

The seven most popular sports in Russia will both astonish you and pique your curiosity as we explore their origins. Additionally, we will showcase why these sports are so popular. Russia has a rich history in sports. Let’s look at it.

7. Tennis

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Tennis has been around in Russia since 1903 and has encouraged over 1,000 tennis clubs in the country.

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The Russian Tennis Federation has been around since 1959 and is the main branch for all things tennis in Russia.

Maria Sharapova is probably the most famous tennis player from Russia. She was the top-ranked player in the PGA for 21 weeks in a row. Ultimately, she is one example of the amazing tennis talent that comes from Russia.

Tennis has been in Russia since the turn of the 20th century. The Russian Tennis Federation started in 1959. Tennis is continuously one of the most popular sports in Russia.

6. Wrestling


Wrestling, also called Sambo, started around the 1920s and was one of the first combat sports the country ever saw.

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Sambo has always been a very big thing in Russia, with wrestlers winning 13 medals during the SAMBO World Championships last year.

Wrestling is a sport that involves technique and strategy. Naturally, it also involves taking down your opponent. People love sambo. It has been around since the 1920s. Additionally, there were contests that allegedly took place centuries ago.

Russia experienced some success with wrestling. Notably, they won 13 medals in last year’s championships. Wrestling is one of the most famous and popular sports in Russia.

5. Boxing

Boxing is an exciting sport, but also provides plenty of danger due to the potential for fatal blows.

Russia has had a variation of boxing since the 13th century, and it has continued to grow over the centuries.

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Fist fighting is an elemental part of boxing in Russian culture.

Boxing has a lot of fans in the United States. Likewise, Russia has a vast and rich history with the sport. Sten Suvio from Finland put boxing on the map in Russia. Kostya Tszyu is the most famous Russian-born boxer. Therefore, boxing is definitely one of the bigger events you can go to when you want to see some fun action.

Russians love boxing so much that fist-fighting and bare-knuckle fight nights have started. In fact, there was a lot of this during the pandemic. The people love combat sports, and boxing is one of the most popular sports in Russia.

4. Basketball


Basketball has been around in Russia since 1923 and became a big part of Soviet culture during the 1970s and 1980s.

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More than 10 million people in Russia are interested in learning about basketball and continue to watch it daily.

Russia has had an interesting history with basketball. First, the sport has been around since the 1930s. It also has more than 10 million people in the country interested in learning about the sport.

Some Russians have also made it to the NBA. Timofey Mozgov is the most famous example, having won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Andrei Kirilenko is another example of a famous player from Russia that succeeded in the NBA.

The VTB United League is the main Russian federation for people who want to play basketball. Ultimately, it continues to provide excellent entertainment and grow the fanbase daily.

3. Volleyball

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Volleyball has been part of the culture in Russia since 1920 and continues to produce various competitors all the time.

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There are over 300 volleyball clubs scattered across Russia.

Volleyball started in 1920 in Russia. It does well despite being a warm-weather sport. Nataliya Goncharova is one of the most well-known professional volleyball players in Russia. She has won six medals throughout her career.

Volleyball is also popular to play. Notably, there are more than 300 volleyball clubs. Factors like this make volleyball one of the most popular sports in Russia.

2. Ice Hockey

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The love for iced hockey in Russia dates back to 1908 and has continued to prosper over 100 years later and even produced some of the greatest players the NHL has ever seen.

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The Kontinental Hockey League is the main league in Russia and has produced a lot of players who eventually went to the NHL.

Russia loves ice hockey. They even have their own federation, the KHL. The NHL has also had some legendary hockey players. Currently, Alexander Ovechkin is the most famous Russian hockey player on the planet. Evgeni Malkin is a close second. Sergei Federov is in the Hall of Fame. Likewise, Pavel Datsyuk will be there someday.

Over 110,000 people are hockey players in clubs in Russia. Furthermore, the KHL averages over 6,000 people per game in attendance for hockey games. Hockey is beloved by Russia.

1. Football (Soccer)

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The beginning of football likely began around 1897 and has continued to shine throughout the decades.

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Over 1,000 football clubs are participating in Russia and producing elite talent yearly.

Football will always have the heart of Russia. Notably, it is also one of the oldest sports in the country’s history. More than 1,000 football clubs exist in Russia. People are playing the sport more than ever before.

Russia even hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In fact, they did well for a while. They made it to the quarterfinals three times and finished in fourth place over a 12-year stretch. It is the most popular sport in Russia.

1.Football (Soccer)
2.Ice Hockey

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About the Author

Rob Hayek is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on animals, sports, places, and events. Rob has been writing and researching about animals, sports, places, and events for over 10 years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Cal State University Fullerton, which he earned in 2009. A resident of California, Rob enjoys surfing and also owns a sports group which allows people from the local community to come together to play sports recreationally.

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