August 13, 2005

Man Swallows 83 Dumplings in 8 Minutes

HONG KONG (AP) -- A Japanese champion eater fended off 30 challengers to win a dumpling eating contest in Hong Kong Saturday, downing 83 steamed dumplings in eight minutes.

In his first contest in Hong Kong, Takeru Kobayashi, 27, picked up the vegetarian dumplings with chopsticks and swallowed many of them almost effortlessly. The professional competitive eater even flaunted his abdominal muscle after he finished eating.

Hong Kong's Johnny Wu came in second place with 76 dumplings.

Some challengers showed pained expressions, with sweat running down their faces as they gobbled down the dumplings. The best six competitors from the contest will compete with Kobayashi in a final pork bun eating race on Sunday.

"I feel really excited," Kobayashi said, adding that he hasn't achieved his full capacity since he has to "reserve room" for Sunday's final contest.

Wu, a burly man, said he was happy to compete against the Japanese hotdog king and felt "fortunate" to be first runner-up.

"I'm only an amateur and he's a professional," he said. "He's really impressive. I have to think about my strategy for tomorrow."

As the winner of a famous hot dog eating contest in New York for the past five years, Kobayashi holds the world record of sucking down 53 1/2 frankfurters in 12 minutes. A native of the Japanese city of Nagoya, Kobayashi weighs just 144 pounds.

He said dumplings are easier to eat since they are smaller and softer than hot dogs, but that he expects a harder time swallowing roast pork buns on Sunday.