Gut Barging: Britain's bargers extend a friendly paunch to Japan

The gut-barging year reached a thrilling climax at its world championships in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, last weekend when Mad Maurice, "the Belgian from Melksham" retained the title he has held for the past four years.

The ancient sport of gut barging, in which two contestants try to barge each other off a 12ft by 8ft mat using only their stomachs, is described by its aficionados as a cross between Sumo wrestling and the Peruvian territorial game of Dungwatt. It has its own complex rules, scoring system and code of etiquette, the worst violation of which is to be accused of gutlessness.

"Most blokes just don't have the stomach for a fight," explained Mad Maurice, after he had expelled his last challenger from the mat with a "full Johnny Turk". The move, a speciality of Maurice, is a single, explosive barge which removes the opponent from the mat.

One of his "gongoozlers" - the ra-ra-skirted, pom-pommed supporters who act as bargers' cheerleaders - said in admiration: "He's the only man I know who can make his belly-button sneer."

Despite the importance of the occasion, however, Maurice's victory was overshadowed by the announcement of new overtures to heal the rift between gut barging and Sumo wrestling. Stung by recent allegations of match-fixing, drugs and tax evasion in the Sumo world, the President of the World Gut Barging Association, Colonel Walter Polhill, is offering "the hand of friendship to our larger Japanese cousins".

More specifically, he has offered "to embrace them [the great Sumo wrestlers] warmly into the bosom of the gut barging family". The offer continues: "We cannot offer fish and boiled rice, but we can keep them in fighting condition on our diet of British beef, bulls' semen and deep-fried Mars bars. And if, by happenstance, they choose to change their allegiances from Sumo to gut barging, we shall be glad to receive them."

Asked for an opinion on the likelihood of his facing a challenge on his home ground from the yokozunas of Sumo, Mad Maurice clasped his 56in paunch pensively, then replied: "Those Sumo geezers have done themselves like kippers. Can't see much future for them now, can you?"

Maurice lives on a canal barge with two Belgian parrots named Axe and Cleaver.

Further information on gut barging is available from: WGBA, Fons Albert, 33 Silver Street, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1JX.

William Hartston has recently been appointed Reality Consultant to the World Gut Barging Association.

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?