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Finger Wrestling (fingerhakeln)

The German Finger Wrestling Championship is a traditional rural sport played by Germans in Bavarian costumes since 1959. It is a sport where two men matched in age and weight sit and face each other over a table and thread their fingers into a leather band. Although the sport seems to look fun, the competitors of finger wrestling take this championship seriously.

The 55th annual Finger Wrestling Championship was held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2014.

The origin of the sport, fingerhakeln in German, is unknown but there had been speculations that it was once used to settle arguments in the southern portion of Germany and nearby Austria.

Months before the championship, expert finger wrestlers train their fingers by crushing tennis balls using their hands, doing a single-digit pull-ups and some even lift as heavy as 50 kg using one finger.

Finger wrestling, just like regular wrestling, divide contestants into categories according to their age and weight. Under the weight division are light, middle, semi-heavy and heavyweight (over 90 kg).

The day of the competition, they use an expander to warm up their fingers.  Then they add magnesia into their hands to keep it dry for the championship.

The contestants set to position and wait for the referee’s signal to start as they both pull as hard as they can. They are sat at a specially-made table across each other, holding the table with their free hand to prevent themselves from moving or crossing the table.

Whoever manages to pull their opponent across the table using only the finger wins the game.

Expert finger wrestlers from all over Germany compete against one another every year and crowed as the Bavarian, German or International Alpine Country champion.

The International Alpine championship is another version of finger wrestling that is being held near the Bavarian town of Ohlstadt, but they only let Austrians take part despite the “international” in its title.

It can be a dangerous sport - some injuries that have been reported include competitors having their skin torn, drawn blood and broken or dislocated fingers.

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