Schwing Festival (Swiss wrestling)

Switzerland

Schwingen is fought as a duel between two physically powerful competitors and has its own rules, grips and throws. The nationally-acclaimed Bösen (“wicked ones” - the best wrestlers) from throughout Switzerland pit their strength at Schwingen festivals.

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“Schwingen” is a traditional Swiss form of wrestling that has recently seen a surge in popularity. The competitors, wearing special breeches made of jute, fight on a big sawdust ring. At the beginning of each round, the wrestlers grab each other by the breeches; the first to throw his opponent and pin his shoulders to the ground wins. This form of wrestling evolved long ago among herdsmen and shepherds, as a way of testing each other’s strength; today, it is one of Switzerland’s best-loved sports.

The national championships take place every three years – 2013 in Burgdorf in the Emmental. For novice spectators, an ideal introduction is the Kemmeriboden Schwinget near Schangnau in late August, an atmospheric, authentic contest regarded as a cradle of the sport.

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