Lift an 80-kg stone ball to prove your worth

Karachi: Can you lift an 80 kg ball of stone? Well, if you can`t, better stay clear of an unusual lifting competition in this Pakistani city where a failure is considered an insult to manhood.

The competition, called Gutti, has its origins in the Hazara community`s age-old tradition. In the times gone by, someone from the bride`s wedding procession would throw down an 80-kg stone and wait for someone from the groom`s side to take up the challenge of lifting it.

"If they failed to lift it, the procession would sometimes be stalled for days," the Express Tribune Tuesday quoted Munnir Abbasi, who organised the stone-lifting competition, as saying.

The competition is for young men from the Hazara community.

Gutti is a four-category event with stones that range from 80 to 120 kg. Though there are no age restrictions, mostly men between 18 and 23 years of age take up the challenge.

Abbasi said only men who have been practising well take part as in this age of technology news travels fast -- news of one`s failure, especially, since such failure is viewed as an insult to one`s manhood.

"If someone takes part in a Karachi competition, and fails, news of it will be discussed in his village for days," Abbasi said. "There is the insult factor."

Lifting the huge stone ball in itself is not easy, but the rules make it tougher.

While lifting, no part of the body other than hands can touch the stone, and there are only a few finger holds drilled into the ball to grasp it.

Thumbs cannot be used either to lift it, instead the competitor must use only his palms to grip the stone, now made of cement, and try and do as many sit-ups as possible with it.

Some barely manage to do five before giving up.

The winner in Monday`s competition was 18-year-old Naveed Khan, who said he had been taking part for the last three years.

"We should take care of our health and exercise every morning," Khan said.

Ghulam Mustafa, 22, stood second while 24-year-old Zafar Iqbal came third.

All the winners weighed between 85 kg and 95 kg.