Joel Wicki is the new “Schwingen King” of Switzerland. The 25-year-old triumphed in this weekend’s national wrestling championships held near Basel.
After finishing as runner-up in the 2019 Federal Wrestling and Alpine Games Festival (Schwingfest), Wicki went one better this year by pinning opponentExternal link Matthias Aeschbacher in the final match of the two-day games.
The 1.83 metre tall Wicki, who is smaller than many other top Schwingen athletes, won out over a total of 274 wrestlers selected for the Schwingfest, which is held only once every three years.
With the victory, the man from canton Lucerne also brought to an end a series of four straight victories for wrestlers from canton Bern. It’s only the second time since the Games began in 1895 that the winner has come from a central Swiss canton.
Dream come true
For his victory, which he told SRF public television was the realisation of a “childhood dream”, Wicki received the top prize of a bull. And while the sport doesn’t offer serious prize money, as “Schwingen King” he may be in line for lucrative sponsorship deals.
The Schwingfest is the high-point of a wrestling circuit that draws big crowds to events across the country: this year’s event in Pratteln in the northwest was attended by an estimated 400,000 people. The arena built for the wrestling could house 50,000 at a time.
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