By most accounts, burping is considered a sign of bad etiquette, but to a small group of people, it's an actual athletic endeavor.
They are the stout-hearted and full-tummied members of the World Burping Federation, an organization that aims, according to its website, to promote "belching best practices" while "also seeking to remove the stigma that has become associated with belching in recent centuries."
To that end, five founding members recently met in New York to participate in what was billed as the first annual World Burping Championship, with burper Tim Janus coming out on top with an 18.1-second burp.
"I've been doing this all my life with friends and family in backyards and parking lots, so I'm happy to do it on a stage," Janus told The Huffington Post. "I'd like to add events in decibel burping and burp-talking as well."
Janus also competes professionally in eating competitions under the name "Eater X," but said the World Burping Championship is equally important.
"I compete as 'Eater X' in competitive eating events and under my own name in the WBF. I consider myself the Bo Jackson of the bowel," he said, name-checking the 1980s-era athlete who excelled at pro baseball and pro football before injuries cut both careers short. "I see eating and burping going hand in hand."
The 18.1-second burp that won Janus the inaugural event was literally heard around the world, thanks to the international media. But while the WBF press releases are claiming it's a world record, other sanctioning bodies are blowing a raspberry at that claim.
Guinness World Records lists Michele Forgione of Italy as the person who achieved history's longest burp: a whopping 1 minute 13 seconds and 57 milliseconds. The record was set in Reggiano, Italy, in June 2009.
But George Shea of the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), which helped sponsor the event and supplied sodas for the contestants, poo-poohs the notion that the Guinness record is the only one that counts.
"[The IFOCE] works with Guinness all the time -- they're a great group -- but sometimes the officials will come up with arcane rules that no one who actually eats follows," Shea told The Huffington Post. "Like who can eat the most of something in three minutes without water. Who eats without water?
"The WBF is its own governing body and, as such, Janus' record certainly qualifies," he added.
Regardless of whether Janus' long-but-not-long-enough burp should be counted as a real record is up for debate. However, event emcee Dave Keating said he believes that any news about burping is good for the ultimate goal of easing the stigma against it.
"The World Burping Federation is here to dispel the stigma of an essential, and some would say necessary, function," Keating told the British newspaper Metro. "We're here to say that after a fantastic meal, one should be able to burp with enthusiasm and intensity -- and be rewarded for that."
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