Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Battle of the beards comes to England

AP , LONDON

Elmar Weiser, from Germany, competes in the World Beard and Mustache Championships, held at the Brighton Center in Brighton, England, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Hundreds of shaggy men descended on Brighton, southern England on Saturday to vie for top marks in this year's World Beard & Mustache Championships.

Roughly 250 bearded and bewhiskered contestants lined up before panels of judges in an effort to win first prize in 17 different classes of facial hair.

Mustache categories include the "Dali" -- slender with long tips, straight or arching up -- and the big and bushy "Hungarian," while full beards range from the shorter "Verdi" to the rounder, more expansive "Garibaldi."

Those with particularly fanciful fuzz -- like one man who showed up with a beard sculpted into the shape of London's Tower Bridge -- were invited to compete in the event's freestyle categories.

Competitors are barred from using extensions or hair pins, although wax and hair spray are allowed in some cases.

The first championship was held by beard enthusiasts in Hofener, Germany, in 1990, and the contest has long been dominated by German beard clubs, according to Beard Team USA, who were celebrating an unprecedented four first-place wins.

Among those celebrating was 23-year-old Jack Passion, from San Francisco, California. His flowing orange fuzz carried the highly competitive the "Full Natural Beard" category.

"I feel fantastic," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm 23 and I have the best beard in the world."

He attributed part of his success to his outfit, a blue tuxedo and bowler hat.

"I looked like a groom," he said. "Too bad you never get married when you have a huge beard."

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