National Geographic News
Rainier Maute, a dashingly whiskered trucker from Albstadt, Germany, plans to compete in the Olympic Games later this year.
It may be surprising that the 48-year-old smoker has a shot at a title. But Maute says he follows a strict training regime to keep in top form.
Each morning the former world and European champion stands before a mirror, where he spends 15 minutes grooming his trim, Kaiser Wilhelm-style mustache. His training gear? "Hairspray and hazelnut mustache wax."
The married father of two plans to showcase his hairy upper lip at May's Beard Olympics in Leogang, Austria.
The event will serve as a kind of warm-up for an Italian match near Venice ("The Italians are fanatics," Maute said) and the October 2005 World Beard and Moustache Championships in Berlin. (See pictures of beard and mustache champions.)
Maute, who has competed in beard and mustache contests since 1992, says he plans to continue "until I have the German championship, and then it's finished."
For those of you still scratching your chins, a few words on international whisker competitions.
Barstool bets aside, the phenomenon is relatively new. The first World Beard and Moustache Championship was held in 1990 in Höfen-Enz, Germany.
The event was organized by the First Höfener Beard Club, one of about a dozen beard and mustache fraternities in Germany today. The club sponsored a second championship in 1995.
Since then the competition has grown into a biennial event hosted by beard and mustache clubs mostly in Germany, Sweden, and Norway.
The whiskered compete in 17 officially sanctioned categories: 8 styles of mustache, 4 varieties of partial beard/goatee, and 5 appellations of full-beard.
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