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German men compete for title in battle of the strongest fingers

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Despite the threat of dislocated fingers and strained muscles, more than 150 Bavarian men came together on Sunday to compete in Germany’s unique national championship of “Fingerhakeln” – finger wrestling.

The all-male competitors met in a big beer tent in the small southern village of Bernbeuren, with around 1,000 people cheering them on as they gulped down their national beer and world-famous German sausages while Bavarian live music filled the air.

Dislocated fingers are common during the contest (Matthias Schrader/AP)

Finger wrestling, a well-known competitive sport in Germany’s Alpine region and neighboiring Austria, originated as a way to settle disputes.

In each round, two competitors sit on opposite sides of a solid table and each hooks one finger – usually the middle digit – through opposite sides of a small leather loop.

As soon as a referee signals the start, a contestant tries to pull the other across the table swiftly.

Competitors celebrate their success in the Fingerhakeln contest (Matthias Schrader/AP)

The whole thing usually lasts a few seconds, and digits put out of their joints are common. The winner moves to the next round.

Marie-Therese Eierstock, head of the Fingerhakler Gau Auerberg association which was founded in 1961, organised this year’s championship.

She said: “This tradition has been popular for a very long time in beer houses and pubs across the region.”

The contest takes place in a large beer tent filled with onlookers dressed in traditional clothes (Matthias Schrader/AP)

Customarily, only men are allowed to participate in finger-wrestling competitions.

At Sunday’s tournament, the youngest competitor was aged 15 and the oldest was 70.

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