WOERNSMUEHL, Germany — Georg Schoettl’s workout routine is intense, but it involves just one finger. That — plus a high tolerance for pain — is all he needs to compete in the unique sport of “Fingerhakeln,” or finger wrestling.
Schoettl’s training regimen consists of using his middle finger to lift a weight and pull a rubber band over and over again. The preparation serves the 56-year-old farmer from southern Germany well when he arrives at the 40th Alpine Country Championship, where he is one of more than 50 competitors.
Hundreds of people in traditional Bavarian clothes come together in a big tent in the picturesque village of Woernsmuehl near Miesbach in Upper Bavaria to drink beer and watch the crowning of new champions.
Fingerhakeln is now a serious competitive sport in the Alpine region of southern Germany and neighboring Austria, but it was originally used to settle disputes.
In each round, competitors sit on opposite sides of a solid table cushioned with leather to soften the impact. They hook their fingers through opposite sides of a small leather loop and wait for the referee to signal the start. The winner is whoever can pull his opponent across the table first. Contests usually last just a few seconds, and dislocated fingers are common.
Schoettl, who has competed for more than 40 years, placed third in the most senior category.