Wrestling in Switzerland

Traditional Swiss Sport – „Schwingen“

In „dr Schwiiz“ (en.: Switzerland), wrestling is also known colloquially as “Hoselupf“ (en.: trouser lift). This is a special form of wrestling unique to Switzerland. One of the differences is that the wrestling takes place within a circle of sawdust. Some may find this pretty „bäumig“ (en.: excellent), but „Schwingen” is a traditional competive sport and isn’t called the battle of giants for nothing. Whoever wins the Eidgenössische Schwingfest (en.: Swiss National Wrestling Championship) carries the title of King. Swiss wrestling is a rather spectacular sport and can put quite a bit of strain on the hips. At first glance, it’s not easy to get too „gluschtig“ (en.: enticing) for this sport, but it is traditional in Switzerland to test one’s strength in this game. It’s called “Hoselupf“, because the wrestlers used to grab each others pants in an attempt to bring the other down, winning when the loser cried that he wanted to give up.

More about the Eidgenössische Schwingfest

A true blood „Schwiizer“ (en.: Swiss person) will always enjoy the Swiss National Wrestling Championship which has some parallels to a Spanish bullfight (although it’s not quite as wild).  The competition is „ennig u schön“ (en.: heartfelt and beautiful) and celebrated every 3 years. The wrestling competition draws countless spectators; the next possibilty to visit the event is in 2019 and is something many Swiss are looking forward to already. For a non Swiss who has never seen Swiss wrestling, it’s really worth a visit as well.

Wrestler’s Outfits

Wrestlers who compete at the  Eidgenössische Schwingfest wear specially tailored pants made out of drill. Drill is a stout durable cotton fabric that is highly absorbant and was, in days gone past, part of every grandmother’s linen chest. There isn’t much drill available in Switzerland any more, so the material for the shorts is largely imported. However, three or four places in the country still manufacture and sell drill. The drill shorts are light and dark brown and may feature the Swiss emblem. The pants are also cut wide so that the wrestlers can get a good grip on them.

Eidgenössische Schwingfest: Rules and Order of Events

Athletes participating in Swiss wrestling (who tend to be huge fellows) may only use their hands to try and bring their opponent down. When one of these mountainous men “gaht” (en.: go) into the ring, he can be assured of huge support. The average weight of a wrestler is 105 kg and it can be quite a sight to see the competitors go for each other with their muscular arms and legs.

The National Swiss Wrestling Championship is not an event where one might say “Du gasch a jede Hundsverlochete!” (en.: You go to every fest!).  The Schwingfest enjoys an international reputation and is visited by approximately 53’000 people each time. Practically every Swiss loves watching a good wrestling match.

There are seven bouts where the athletes duel against each other. The wrestlers who “survive” all seven rounds without landing on their backs and get the most points go on to compete in the final round.

The Last Round

The Eidgenössische Schwingfest

The last round and highlight of the National Swiss Wrestling Championship always takes place on a „Sunntig“ (en.: sunday) afternoon. The winner of the final round „derf“ (en.: may) call himself King, not just for a season or until the next „schönä“ (en.: beautiful) wrestling championship – the title is for life.

The last round is followed with as much, if not more, enthusiasm as the previous bouts and many more people come to watch the brave finalists compete for the title. Who knows – maybe even more sawdust is thrown than usual.

The Glorious Prize

The winner of the Eidgenössische Schwingfest doesn’t take home a cup or anything like that – the ultimate prize is a live bull. The last bull won at the championship, named “Mazot de Cremo”, was worth 18’000 Euro. The winner kept the bull for breeding. Nobody in Switzerland gets rich by winning the competition, but a little „Gäld“ (en.: money) can be made with a „schönä“ advertising contract.


Traditions such as the Eidgenössische Schwingfest are gaining popularity in Switzerland. The wrestlers who enter the competion are no „Gloons“ (en.: clowns); they are highly looked upon and even revered.

If you want to find out more about the National Swiss Wrestling Championship and other interesting traditions  in Switzerland like the Knabenschiessen in Zurich, take a look at what we offer at Learn Swiss German. You can do one of our popular courses in Swiss German; these courses have enjoyed widespread favour particularly in Austria, Germany and Italy. Just click through our choice of courses and see if one appeals to you.

Here is a list of the Swiss German words used in this text. Have fun learning!

Vocabulary list:

Schwiiz – Switzerland

Bäumig – excellent, wonderful, great

Gluschtig – enticing

Ennig u schön – heartfelt and beautiful

Gaht – go

Du gasch a jede Hundsverlochete! – You go to every fest!

Sunntig – Sunday

Derf – may

Gäld – money

Schönä – beautiful

Gloons – clowns


The National Swiss Wrestling Championship
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