Just a circle of sawdust on a grassland and two men, both wearing big trousers made of jute. They throw and trip up each other, trying to lay the opponent with his back to the ground. They fight for glory and honour. Successful Schwingers do not receive cash prizes, but goods such as cowbells, furniture or livestock. The elite of them is also called “die Bösen” (the evil ones).
That is “Schwingen” (German “schwingen” = English “to swing/sway”) and it thrills the bulks in Switzerland. In the second half of the 19th century, this original fight of herders and farmers was established as a national sport in Switzerland. Originally, it is only a male sport, but since 1992, there is also a Women's Schwingen Association.
The technique with the throws and trips is similar to judo but there are no weight classes nor any other categories. Typically, a Schwinger is a big man, over 180 cm tall with a weight of more than 100 kg.
The rules are simple: there is a winner if one of the fighters holds the opponent's pants with at least one hand and both the opponent's shoulders touch the ground. By tradition, the winner brushes the sawdust off the loser's back after the match.
If the time of the fight is over without a winner, there are three referees to give points. They give a higher score to the more active Schwinger. The winner of the “Eidgenössische” (biggest Schwing festival, takes place every three years) is given the lifetime title of “Schwingerkönig” (Schwinger king), which includes some privi-leges on further festivals and the status of a national sport celebrity.
Usually the main price for the winner of the Eidgenössische is a bull.
Here you find a short video with interesting pictures of the modern Schwingers´sport: