How to be a champion Swiss wrestler

Caroline Bishop
Caroline Bishop - [email protected] • 23 Aug, 2019 Updated Fri 23 Aug 2019 08:13 CEST
image alt text

The sport of Schwingen, or Swiss wrestling, is hugely important in Switzerland, and its champions become sporting celebrities.


One such star is Matthias Sempach, now 33 and retired, who beat the competition to earn the title Schwingerkönig (king schwinger) in 2013 at the federal Swiss wrestling championships.
A couple of years back, The Local caught up with him to ask him what it takes to become the best in the sport.
Matthias Sempach is one of the stars of the sport. Photo: The Local
Start young
Sempach says he began learning to be a Schwinger at just seven years old.
Learn from your elders
Schwingen is in the family for Sempach – both his father and uncle play the sport – so it was inevitable that he and his brother would continue in their footsteps. “My brother is 15 months older than me and so we would always fight together,” he says.
Appreciate the tradition 
“In my region Schwingen is very important,” says Sempach, who grew up in a very traditional Swiss family. “It’s as though I was born to do this sport.”
Be passionate about it
To be a top Schwinger you must have “technique, strength, speed, and also the mental side – the willingness to do it,” he says. “And passion – that’s the most important thing, you must be passionate about this sport.”
Work hard
“You must work hard in training,” he says, and be willing to keep up the hard work long-term, over many years. 
Be built for it
Of course, it also helps to be stacked like Sempach, who is 194cms tall and weighs a considerable 110kg, helpful for overcoming your opponents. 
Sempach competes at Unspunnen. Photo: Andy Mettler/Swiss-image
To find out more about Swiss wrestling and Matthias Sempach, visit and
Sempach is a brand ambassador for Unspunnen sponsor Tissot.



Caroline Bishop 2019/08/23 08:13

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also