Watch: Austrian men do battle in martial arts contest atop mountain

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By Sinead Barry  with Reuters
Watch: Austrian men do battle in martial arts contest atop mountain
Copyright  Reuters

Every year, men from Salzburg in Austria ascend the Hundstein mountain to take part in a martial arts contest in a natural arena.

The competition is named Hundstoa or Jakobi Ranggeln and is a historical form of Celtic wrestling.

The tradition dates back more than 500 years and was given UNESCO Cultural Heritage Status in 2010.

"Originally the Hundstoa (Hundstein) was a holy mountain of the Celts, who immigrated here in the Fifth Century B.C. They brought iron, tools, sheep and cows with them and also the Ranggeln sport," said Guenther Heim, a veteran wrestler.

This year, 90 participants bid for the prestigious title and the prize of the Hagmoar, a flag.

"The Hagmoar of Hundstoa has been highly prized since time immemorial and it is difficult to win," explained Heim.

With combat taking place at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres, this is no grapple for the faint-hearted.

Children as young as six are allowed to take part in the festivities but only those over 19 can compete for the prize of the Hagmoar.

Christoph Eberl, 25 claimed the title this year.

"It's an unbelievable feeling. You work for years to achieve this success and when it happens you almost can't believe it," he said.

Deputy Chairwoman of the Salzburg Heimatverbände, Caezilia Althuber, thoroughly enjoyed the event.

"It's very dramatic. When you see the young boys fighting with so much energy and effort, it's great. They're excited and emotional, and in the end, they cry! You get really swept up in it."

Video editor • Francois Rudolf