• Over 150 Bavarian men participated in Germany’s national championship of “Fingerhakeln,” or finger wrestling, on Sunday.
  • The unique tradition took place in a large beer tent in the small southern village of Bernbeuren.
  • Finger wrestling originated as a way to settle disputes and is a well-known competitive sport in Germany’s Alpine region and neighboring Austria.

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

The “finger wrestlers” met in a big beer tent in the small southern village of Bernbeuren. Around 1,000 visitors cheered on the all-male contestants as they gulped down their national beer and world-famous German sausages while Bavarian live music filled the air.

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

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In each round, two competitors sit on opposite sides of a solid table and each hooks one finger — usually the middle finger — 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. The whole thing usually lasts a few seconds, and digits put out of their joints are common. The winner moves to the next round.

Finger wrestling

A man dressed in traditional clothes tries to pull his opponent over the table at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, on May 12, 2024. Competitors battled for the title in this traditional rural sport where the winner has to pull his opponent over a marked line on the table. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

“This tradition has been popular for a very long time in beer houses and pubs across the region,” said Marie-Therese Eierstock, the head of the Fingerhakler Gau Auerberg association, founded in 1961 and organized this year’s championship.

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

At Sunday’s tournament, the youngest competitor was 15 years old and the oldest 70, Eierstock said.

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