A 'schwingen' good time in Holtville
Steven Whitmore (right) wrestles in a swiss-style wrestling match Saturday at the Imperial Valley Swiss Club¿s 54th annual Schwing-fest West Coast Championship in Holtville.
Schwingen, or Swiss-style wrestling, was on display as 36 wrestlers from San Diego, Newark, Ripon, Truckee and the Imperial Valley gathered here to wrestle and accumulate points within the West Coast Swiss Wrestling Association, said IVSC President George Morris.
Schwingers earn points throughout the schwingen bouts and accumulate points over a period of four years in order to become eligible for the international championships in Switzerland, Morris said.
“It rotates around and we’re the last Schwingfest of the year,” Morris said. In fact, some participants came from as far as Tacoma, Wash., to wrestle, as the announcer indicated to the crowd.
Morris said the schwingen style of wrestling began in the Swiss Alps and now uses a more standard form of schwingenhozen, or canvas-style wrestling pants.
“You have to start with grips, one in the back on the side,” Morris said. “You use moves to get your opponent on the sawdust. “There is not a point system for take downs or escapes, you can only win by a pin and that is shoulders on the sawdust.
“There’s quite a few people that are not Swiss that participate in it,” Morris said. “It’s a big sport in Switzerland. Now it’s in Africa and spreading in the United States.”
“At the end of this there’ll be a champion for today’s Schwingfest and an overall champion for the year,” said David Ritter, IVSC vice president and event president for the day.
“We’ve had a great turnout,” he said. “The crowd’s really into it, they’re really enjoying themselves.”
The crowd and participants alike agreed.
“It’s pretty cool,” 14-year-old El Centro resident Todd Hunt said. “It’s pretty unusual, the grabbing on the shorts and everything. I think it’s fun.”
“I enjoy it. I think it’s so different and it’s neat that they start them so little,” El Centro resident Helen Knight said.
“We bring Canadians out here to this and they’re amazed,” Knight said of the snowbirds who tend to frequent the Schwingfests held in the spring time. “I don’t think people realize all that’s out here.”
Brawley resident Mykell Johnston agreed.
“There’s not many Swiss people here so we all try to get together and support the tradition,” she said as one of her young sons walked back to the family with sawdust in his hair.
“It’s our heritage so that’s why we always come,” Johnston said.
Staff Writer Roman Flores can be reached at 760-337-3439 or email@example.com