- Tommy Mattinson
- 18 first
- United Kingdom (Egremont)
The most wins of the Gurning World Championships (male) is 18, achieved by Tommy Mattinson (UK) at the annual Egremont Crab Fair in Cumbria, UK. Mattinson's flexible face took the top prize in 1986–87, 1999, 2001–08, 2010–14, 2019 and 2023.
The Egremont Crab Fair dates to 1267, when a local lord was granted a royal charter to hold a weekly market and annual harvest festival. The date of the first gurning competition is unknown but it was first written about as an "ancient tradition" in 1852.
The annual competition is not limited to toothless old men - women and children also compete in their own categories - though they do make up a large proportion of the contestants. Judges are looking for the most hideous transformations, with the winner being the contestant that serves up not necessarily the most gruesome visage but the greatest change between their normal face and their gurning face.
Tommy chalks up his success to transforming himself into "The Wolf", the face he pulls inspired by a snarling canid. In 2008, he claimed the outright record for most wins after exceeding the 10 victories secured by his father, Gordon Mattinson, in 1967–72 and 1974–77. Tommy's children and grandchildren have also taken up the sport, keeping the family traditional alive.
The 2023 event was the first after a three-year hiatus forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and then the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II. It was held in honour of Gordon Blacklock, a seven-time winner "with one of the ugliest faces and kindest hearts in the world", who passed away in 2020.
Also competing at the 2023 World Championship was Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday, and the British stand-up comedians Nish Kumar and Josh Widdicombe, none of whom placed.
The most celebrated of all gurning competitors was Anne Wood (UK, 1947-2015), who took home the women's trophy an incredible 28 times between her first appearance in 1977 and her last in 2014; her 13 consecutive wins between 1982 and 1994 are also record-worthy. Based on the archive of winners kept since 1945, Tommy's eight back-to-back wins from 2001 to 2008 is also a record in the men's event.