Switzerland has its 2019 ‘schwingen king'

Christian Stucki (top) wins against Joel Wicki Keystone / Ennio Leanza


Christian Stucki has won the national championship title in Swiss wrestling, known as schwingen, making him the latest ‘schwingen king'.

Keystone-SDA/swissinfo.ch/ilj

The 34-year old, who weighs in at 140 kg and comes from near Bern, had to fight for his title at the Federal Wrestling and Alpine Games Festival, or Schwingfest, in Zug, central Switzerland.

He won over his opponent, the 22-year-old newcomer Joel Wicki, from central Switzerland, in around 40 seconds in the final bout of wrestling on Sunday afternoon. Watch what happened in the Tweet below (commentary in Swiss German).


"I can't quite believe it," said the visibly moved Stucki on Swiss national television SRF. "But it's of course wonderful".

It's not the first time the experienced Stucki has been in a federal wrestling festival final: in 2013 he lost out to Matthias Sempach. At 34 years old, he is, however, the oldest 'king' so far.

Stucki celebrates before the crowds, thousands came to watch on Sunday Keystone / Ennio Leanza


The ‘king’ also receives a bull as the main prize. The best 15% of the wrestlers receive a wreath and a special title: "Eidgenoss" or "Confederate".

Christian Stucki (left) with his prize, congratulated by Swiss President Ueli Maurer (right) Keystone / Ennio Leanza

Tradition

The traditional festival dates back to the end of the 19th century  and is held once every three years. It's a major date in the Swiss sporting calendar with a high level of media coverage.

Swiss wrestling takes place in a sawdust ring and fighters try to throw opponents onto their backs using each other’s shorts. It’s an eclectic sport largely unknown outside Switzerland. Although there are some foreign participants, like these Americans with Swiss roots.

There are also competitions in other sports, such as boulder throwing and Hornussen (hornets), a team sport that looks a bit like a cross between golf and baseball.

+ Read more about Swiss wrestling and these other sports here

Organisers said they expected more than 400,000 people to attend the three-day festival, which ends on Sunday. This makes it the country's biggest sporting event. 

Real royal

Federal festivals are designed to bring people together. They promote national cohesion and celebrate the Swiss identity, although there has been some discussion in the media of whether they perpetuate Swiss clichés.

This year’s festival also attracted a real royal, in the person of the King of Tonga, invited through a personal connection with a Zug family. The next federal wrestling festival will take place in Pratteln, near Basel, in 2022.


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