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German men with the strongest fingers compete in Bavaria’s ‘Fingerhakeln’ wrestling championship

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, Sunday, 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)

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, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

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BERNBEUREN, Germany (AP) — 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.

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, Sunday, 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)

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, Sunday, May 12, 2024.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Finger wrestling, a well-known competitive sport in Germany’s Alpine region and neighboring 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 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.

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, Sunday, 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)

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, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (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.

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.

A referee monitors the leather ring held by two competitors with their middle fingers at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

A referee monitors the leather ring held by two competitors with their middle fingers at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Men dressed in traditional clothes try to pull the opponent over the table at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

Men dressed in traditional clothes try to pull the opponent over the table at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

New champions Luis Koegel, right, and Thomas Hipp celebrate winning at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

New champions Luis Koegel, right, and Thomas Hipp celebrate winning at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

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, Sunday, 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)

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, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A competitor stretches his fingers as he prepares for a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

A competitor stretches his fingers as he prepares for a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

People dressed in traditional clothes attend the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

People dressed in traditional clothes attend the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A competitor stretches his fingers as he prepares for a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

A competitor stretches his fingers as he prepares for a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Competitors stretch their fingers as they prepare for a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln_finger wrestling_ in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

Competitors stretch their fingers as they prepare for a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln_finger wrestling_ in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

People dressed in traditional clothes attend the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

People dressed in traditional clothes attend the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A competitor warms up for his bout, at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

A competitor warms up for his bout, at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Competitors in traditional clothes warm up for their bouts at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

Competitors in traditional clothes warm up for their bouts at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A young boy in traditional clothes watches a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

A young boy in traditional clothes watches a bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A competitor warms up for his bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, 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)

A competitor warms up for his bout at the German Championships in Fingerhakeln or finger wrestling, in Bernbeuren, Germany, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

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, Sunday, 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)

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, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)