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On a circular area filled with 23 cubic metres of sawdust, two athletes compete, accompanied by a referee. What is now a modern sport with high popularity throughout the country has been part of the festive culture in some Swiss regions for centuries. The first depiction of wrestling (the word is made up of Swiss and wrestling) dates back to the 13th century.

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Wanted: The wrestler king

As a pastoral sport, swinging was especially popular at alpine and inn festivals. Prizes ranging from a piece of trouser material to a sheep beckoned to the winner. The main prize was the honour of winning. With the founding of the Swiss Wrestling Federation in 1895, a uniform set of rules was established for the whole of Switzerland for the first time. Since then, the new champion, the wrestling king, has been sought every three years at the Federal Wrestling and Alpine Festival (ESAF). This year's ESAF in Zug is expected to attract 300,000 visitors between 23 and 25 August. The fact that the Swiss national sport is still so popular today is probably due to the Swiss sense of tradition. Even today, the winner here receives a live prize, the winner's muni. Such a bull has already made some wrestling kings millionaires, thanks to the valuable seeds.

Respect for the opponent

A walk, as a wrestling match is called, lasts five minutes. Whoever receives the highest score from the jury afterwards is considered the winner. At a wrestling festival, the wrestlers have to get through six rounds, at the ESAF even eight. From around 100 different swings and 300 combinations, the aim is to use the right one to knock the opponent, who is only grabbed by the wrestler's trousers, to the ground. Whoever lies with both shoulder blades in the sawdust has lost the round. After the round, the winner wipes the sawdust off the loser's shoulders. Despite all the popularity and media presence, the sport of wrestling has retained its original values: respect and down-to-earthness.

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