Unveiling the Art of Gurning: The Strangest Faces in Sports History!

Welcome to the most unusual sports event in history that you may or may have not even heard of! Gurning is the art of purposely distorting your facial expression by sticking out your lower jaw forward and upwards.


Gurning has its origins in rural English areas. It is also regarded as one of the ancient fair events in the world. Although the tradition is assumed to be around the time of the 12th century, it is still unclear as to when it originated. However, it was a popular tradition in many villages where the gurners structured their face inside a horse collar!


The Gurning World Championship takes place at Egremont Crab Fair in the Lake District, Cumbria, and it has been taking place since 1267!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no competitions held for three years in a row. As for this year, the much-awaited, unique competition World Gurning Championship was held in September 2023.

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Since gurning requires a person to change their facial expressions, by moving the jaw. People with no teeth can perform gurning faces better than those with teeth. This is because the jaw can freely move upwards often going all the way to the nose!


He has bagged A well-known name in the world of gurning is Tommy Mattinson.

the world title 15 times – being the only male gurner with these many titles from 1986 to 1987 and from 1999 and 2010!

In addition to that, Peter Jackman became England’s top gurner, who has won the world championship four times. His first time winning the 1998 world title he made a face that was known as the ‘Bela Lugosi’.

He got his teeth removed in the year 2000 just because of gurning. He also made an appearance on the TV show ‘They Think It’s All Over’. As for the top female gurner, Anne Woods has won the world championship title 28 times in her career!


Q. What is facial gurning?

A gurn or chuck is a distorted facial expression and a verb to describe the action.

Q. Where is Gurning from?

Gurning competitions reportedly originated in 1297 at the Egremont Crab Fair, UK.

Q. What is a unique rule for the gurning competition?

Makeup is banned for the competition but false teeth are permitted. 

Q. When was the world Gurning championship held in 2023?

It was held on 16th September after a three-year pause due to Covid-19.

Author’s opinion

Upon discovering this extremely weird yet interesting activity, I instantly tried some gurning faces. This is a lot harder than you think. Give it a try! Gurning is one of the oldest sports events that originated in the UK. It gained much recognition, although it fits into the category of one of the least popular sports!

What do you think?

Written by Usama

Usama J. is a passionate writer about the sports and works as an in house sports journalist at Openiun, and covered many international sporting events including ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022.