German men compete for title in battle of the strongest fingers

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.

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

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.

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

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.”

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

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

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