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    A former comedian who defied the odds to win the World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships despite never having eaten one before reckons he will defend his crown next year.

    Mad Liverpudlian adventurer Niall Purcell had previously competed in a shin-kicking tournament, the World Heavy Metal Knitting championships, and the World Pig Squealing cup.

    However, after losing each time and learning from his mistakes, the YouTuber triumphed at the Nettle event in Dorset, beating out the prickly competition.

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    Detailing the experience on his YouTube channel under the name of NonStopNiall, he went through weeks of rigorous training to prepare for the event.

    His regime included attempting to eat a bucket load of Spinach – before throwing up on it with around half of it left to consume – and dressing up like a giant nettle bush.

    He also, hilariously, jumped into a nettle bush hoping he would be immune to the stings…

    He was not.

    The challenge itself was 30 minutes long, and he consumed 54ft of nettles.

    Nettle competitions are measured in feet, with branches broken into 2ft strips.

    The idea is, you have to eat all the stinging nettles off the leaves and the one who eats the most strips of leaves wins.

    So, having never eaten the nasty plant before, how did it feel when he put the first leaf in his mouth?

    Speaking exclusively to the Daily Star, Essex-born Niall said: “I'm intensely competitive.

    “I made such a big deal out of the fact that I was doing this, so there was a lot of a lot riding on it.

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    “I don't want to be any more of a laughing stock down the pub than I already am, so it's like once you're in it, you're committed to it and you've got to power through.

    “We had some tricks up our sleeves – a friend of mine brought along some dock leaves so that I could eat a little bit of leaf every so often to try and see whether that would help, which it didn't at all.

    “Once you're in a certain zone and you're surrounded by a crowd who were really lovely and enthusiastic, it nullifies it a little bit.

    “Obviously my lips were still on fire and my fingers felt like they'd swollen up horrendously”

    Niall, who hasn't ruled out returning next year to defend his title, took part in the challenge ahead of joining some random challenges around the world for the next 12 months.

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    “The original idea came about when I was chatting with an old friend of mine,” he explained.

    “We kind of discussed the idea of if you could wake up anywhere in the world on any one day, where is the strangest place you could be.

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    “So if tomorrow you could wake up and you could choose to be anywhere in the world, where's the weirdest place that you could be for that day.

    “For years, going back to university, and ever since I've had loads of ideas for comedic stunts – I used to do quite a lot of stand up and improv and stuff like this, and had loads of ideas that I've been super excited about, I tell friends about, and then I just didn't have the time to do.

    “There was a constant feeling of 'why aren't I doing this?', because I love it, it's really, really good fun.

    “It brings me a lot of joy and it hopefully, hopefully brings other people some joy.

    “The biggest thing I'm learning during this period, to be incredibly cliched, is not to put things off and just to go for whatever you enjoy.”

    And going back to the nettles, Niall wouldn't be drawn on how his bowels were in the days after the event – although he did call it a “great detox diet”.

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