In pictures: Lebanese arm wrestlers revive century-old tradition
As far back as the 19th century, men in villages across the country would show off their strength, locking hands over a table -- or even just lifting rocks. The old sport has drawn in new fans in Lebanon. Dozens gathered in Jounieh to watch men and women grapple for gold.
On a seaside podium in Lebanon, Halim el-Achkar locks hands with an opponent, exerting pressure until he slams both contestants' forearms down with a fearsome growl, to win the bout. His rippling biceps etched with tattoos, the 25-year-old is thrilled that the country's century-old pastime of arm wrestling has been given a new lease of life. A single fight can last a few seconds or several gut-wrenching minutes, with at least two referees hunched over the table to spot fouls. The tournament in Jounieh, a Lebanese town just north of the capital Beirut, is the second annual nationwide contest organised by the country's arm wrestling federation Established last year, the body already boasts 750 members whom it trains to perform at international standards, founder Karim el-Andary said. A competition was also held for male and female members of the army and security forces. Men compete in an arm wrestling championship in Lebanon's coastal city of Jounieh. Watched closely by judges, Lebanese men compete in an arm-wrestling championship in the coastal city of Jounieh