Europe

German finger wrestling pulls a crowd in Bavaria

Competitors face off in the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA

Men in traditional Bavarian costume squared off across tables for one of the world's more unusual competitions - German finger wrestling (Fingerhakeln).

Competitors, who are matched in weight and age, sit opposite each other and pull on a small leather loop using just one finger.

Competitors face off in the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA

The winner is the one who pulls his opponent across the table.

Competitors face off in the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA

The 60th annual championships took part in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on Thursday as part of the Partenkirchner Festival Week.

Competitors face off in the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA
A referee supervises competitors in the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA

As in other forms of wrestling, those taking part must put in lots of training. Squeezing tennis balls and lifting heavy weights with just one finger are both part of the routine. To emerge triumphant, technique and physical strength are important, as is a high pain threshold.

Competitors warm up for the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA
Children watch competitors face off in the German Finger Wrestling (Fingerhakeln) Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, 15 August 2019 Image copyright EPA

The contest is not without its hazards. Injuries include cuts, friction burns and broken or dislocated fingers.

Fingerhakeln is traditional in Bavaria and in Austria. Its origins are unclear but it is believed to have started as a way of settling arguments.

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