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How to be a champion Swiss wrestler

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Sempach overcomes an opponent in the ring. Photo: Andy Mettler/Swiss-image
10:31 CEST+02:00
The sport of Schwingen, or Swiss wrestling, is hugely important in Switzerland, and its champions become sporting celebrities.
On such star is Matthias Sempach, 31, who beat the competition to earn the title Schwingerkönig (king schwinger) in 2013 at the federal Swiss wrestling championships.
The Local caught up with him at the recent Unspunnen folk festival 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 esv.ch and matthiassempach.ch
Sempach is a brand ambassador for Unspunnen sponsor Tissot.
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