spectators of all ages and from all over Switzerland flocked to
the 41st Swiss Federal Wrestling & Cowherd Festival in Aarau
from 24 to 26 August 2007. This was a wrestling festival of
superlatives and the installation of a large screen allowed
everyone to follow the bouts, not just spectators with ringside
seats. Over the weekend, 279 burly wrestlers battled it out
under summer skies to win the title of “Wrestling King”.
For this Swiss version of wrestling, competitors wear special
shorts of coarse drill over their trousers, with a slit at the
back allowing the stipulated grip on the belt. A contest
consists of one round lasting 10-12 minutes. The winner is the
wrestler who throws his opponent onto his back with both
shoulder blades touching the ground, without losing his own grip
on his opponent’s shorts. If neither wrestler succeeds within
the allotted time, the round is considered a draw. A contestant
receives 8-10 points per round, depending upon whether and how
he won or lost.
The Federal Wrestling Festival takes place every three years,
with eight rounds fought over two days.
The winner of the National Festival holds the title of
“Wrestling King” for three years. Title holder and favourite
Jörg Abderhalden from Toggenburg kept his title with seven wins
and one draw.
Although the festival largely revolves around Swiss-style
wrestling, other unique Swiss sports are also represented, for
example “Hornussen”. Very simply explained: using a carbon fibre
whip, teams of 18 take turns to hit a puck or “nouss” as far as
possible over a field where the opposing team stands armed with
large boards on long handles, which they throw into the air to
try and stop the nouss. The further the nouss flies the higher
Another tradition is Steinstossen (stone throwing) which
involves throwing the famous 83.5 kg Unspunnen stone as far as
possible. The current record (Nov. 2007) is 3.89 metres, held by
Markus Maire from Plaffeien in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. The
event also attracts Switzerland’s best yodellers, flag throwers
and alphorn players.