WEIRD NEWS

Undertakers Deadly Serious About Gravedigging Championship

"I don't think this is morbid."

In a graveyard in Hungary, solemn contemplation gave way to frantic sportsmanship on Friday as dozens of grave diggers battled to prove they were the fastest and best in the business.

  • Taking their places at plots selected by pulling names out of a hard hat, 18 two-man teams waited for an official to shout "S
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    Taking their places at plots selected by pulling names out of a hard hat, 18 two-man teams waited for an official to shout "Start!" before shoveling at the ground to dig a precise, regulation-size grave as quickly as possible.
  • "I don't think this is morbid," the Hungarian Undertakers’ Association's deputy chairman, Zoltan Juracsik, told Reuters
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    "I don't think this is morbid," the Hungarian Undertakers’ Association's deputy chairman, Zoltan Juracsik, told Reuters at the national grave-digging contest at the wooded cemetery in Debrecen, Hungary's biggest city after Budapest.
  • "This is a profession, and the colleagues who toil in competition today are proud and deserve our respect," Juracsik said.
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    "This is a profession, and the colleagues who toil in competition today are proud and deserve our respect," Juracsik said.
  • In less than half an hour, the local team, perhaps enjoying the home advantage, finished their grave first. The stragglers to
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    In less than half an hour, the local team, perhaps enjoying the home advantage, finished their grave first. The stragglers took almost one hour.d, and aesthetic quality. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
  • The graves were then judged on neatness and whether they complied with the regulation size: 200 cm long, 80 cm wide and 160 c
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    The graves were then judged on neatness and whether they complied with the regulation size: 200 cm long, 80 cm wide and 160 cm deep (7 feet by 2 feet 7 inches by 5 feet).
  • The winning team wins a place in an international tournament against Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    The winning team wins a place in an international tournament against Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
  • The contest is meant to improve the prestige of grave digging and attract young men to a job that must still be done by hand
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    The contest is meant to improve the prestige of grave digging and attract young men to a job that must still be done by hand in crowded graveyards where mechanical diggers cannot fit.
  • One of the competitors, Csaba Halasz, 21, began by taking summer job after high school. Although he graduated with a degree i
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    One of the competitors, Csaba Halasz, 21, began by taking summer job after high school. Although he graduated with a degree in physical education, he stayed in the business.
  • "This job chose me," Halasz said. "It's hard but it's worth it. Relatives come and thank me every time. The profession just l
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    "This job chose me," Halasz said. "It's hard but it's worth it. Relatives come and thank me every time. The profession just lured me in."
  • Gravediggers change into their formal clothes after the first Hungarian grave digging championship in Debrecen, Hungary, June
    Laszlo Balogh / Reuters
    Gravediggers change into their formal clothes after the first Hungarian grave digging championship in Debrecen, Hungary, June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
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