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August 30, 2005 > Schwingfest at Swiss Park

Schwingfest at Swiss Park

by Linda Stone

Wrestling, Swiss style, is coming to Newark! On Saturday, September 3rd, the Aelpler Gruppe Swiss Club in Newark is hosting the 48th West Coast Swiss Wrestling Association Championship Schwingfest. This semi-annual traditional event has been a held at Newark's Swiss Park as a transplanted sport from the mother country where young men, returning from a summer of tending livestock in mountain top pastures, were anxious to demonstrate their strength and wrestling prowess.

Swiss Alpine farmers have been competing in this form of wrestling for centuries and spectators liken it to Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. Swiss wrestling is unique, however, related to Persian, Lapp and Icelandic versions of the sport. Schwingen is known as a friendly fight; opponents greet each other with a handshake before each round, which lasts from five to 12 minutes in a 30-foot ring called a "Platz" and is covered with wood shavings or sawdust.

Competitors wear special shorts with a slit in the back over belted trousers. The slit allows for better grip for opponents. The game begins with the wrestlers in the starting position; weight is evenly distributed on both legs to insure that neither wrestler has an advantage. Each person must stand back so they can obtain proper grips. Once they are ready the referee announces "Gut" (good) or "wrestle." Each time wrestling is stopped; the wrestlers start in this position.

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 to 10 points per round, depending upon whether and how he won or lost. In a typical Swiss gesture, the victor traditionally brushes sawdust from the loser's back.

Schwingfest is open to the public. For more information about this unique competition, call Joe Marty at (408) 268-9755.

Saturday, Sept. 3
11:30 a.m.
Swiss Park
5911 Mowry Ave, Newark
(408) 793-6272

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