The sport dates back to the 17th century

By Alex Heigl
Updated July 13, 2016 03:00 PM
Action Press/StarTraks

It’s a shame the Summer Olympics are about to be overshadowed.

That’s because finger wrestling is here to take its rightful place atop the pantheon of world sports. (I say this because I just discovered it, and it hasn’t been written about in a while.)

The traditional Alpine sport – in which competitors sit across a table from one another and pull a small leather band with one finger until one of them goes across the table – recently held its 63rd world championships in Hausham, Bavaria, Germany, and the world has never been more primed for the sport to take over.

Fingerhakeln, as it’s known in German, is believed to date back to the 17th century, when it was possibly used to settle arbitration between lederhosen-clad men. The lederhosen and other traditional dress are still a big part of the sport and its competitors take things very seriously, with conditioning exercises like one-finger weight lifts and one-finger pull-ups as part of their regimen. Some competitors crush tennis balls with their hands, which sounds fun. They also have spotters, because sometimes people go flying over the table, and considering the heavyweights of the sport start at 200 pounds, well, that’s a lot of dude to suddenly come hurtling backwards.

But conditioning is only part of the battle. Sometimes, the best finger-wrestlers are created by nature, not nurture. “You have to have a fat finger, so that the strap has a good hold,” Anton Utzschneider, a finger wrestler with 40+ years of battles under his belt, explained to Der Spiegel in 2008.

Like I said, you’re going down, Olympics.