In the early years of the 20th century, boxing was booming in Paris. On the front line was the Swiss former world champion Frank Erne, who, in 1908, organised impressively large and spectacular boxing matches. A few years later, boxing fever had arrived in Zurich. swissinfo.chexternal link dived deep into the archives and found pearls of sweat and flying fists.
The boxing craze soon reached western Switzerland; the first clubs were founded in Geneva and Lausanne. In 1909, four years before the founding of the Swiss Boxing Associationexternal link, the first Swiss championships were held. According to news reports, the founding meeting of the association took place in February 1913, with representatives from Geneva and Berne.
Eventually the sport was established in Zurich, mainly through the popularity with members of the working class. ‘Boxclub Sportring’external link was founded in 1919, and its local counterpart ‘Box Club of the City of Zurich’ (BCZexternal link) in 1934. The BCZ experienced a great surge in popularity in the mid-1930s. Fighters trained in the atmospheric old city hall in Zurich’s 4th district. In the fifties, the local training establishment was moved to the 3rd district, Wiedikon.
In 1971, another boxing highlight for Switzerland took place: the match of Muhammad Ali vs Jürgen Blin. Ali trained in Zurich before the big event, met huge crowds of fans, and stopped in to a local shop to pick up a new pair of shoes; all moments captured in a series of unique photographs.
Today, the BCZ is home to people from all walks of life, and anyone can join. It currently has more than 400 members, of which more than half train regularly.
Swiss filmmaker Thomas Horatexternal link has kindly given swissinfo.ch access to a wide range of historical photos of the Boxclub Sportring and BCZ from his private collection. The former president and trainer of Boxclub Sportring Zurich was president of the Zurich Boxing Association from 1997 to 2016.