Bombay and Greth get to Stay Home

Leister Insight27 Aug 2019

The Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival (ESAF) in Zug was a magnificent event.

Author: Silke Landtwing, Manager Corporate Communications, Leister Switzerland

Joel Wicki narrowly missed out on the title of Schwingen King, ultimately finishing second and winning the cow Greth, which became famous for its escape attempt. Marcel Mathis finished third at the ESAF, winning the Bombay, the Leister cow, so-called because the Group sponsors the cow for the third-placed wrestler.

No need to worry though, the lovely Bombay will be able to stay on the Küchlerhof, very close to Leister’s headquarters in Kägiswil, because Marcel Mathis chose to take the CHF 20,000 cash prize instead of the four-legged alternative.

Christian Stucki made exactly the same choice. Rather than the bull calf Kolin – which would only have trampled his lawn, Stucki answered when asked – Christian chose the cash prize of CHF 30,000. Joel Wicki too preferred his hard-earned CHF 24,000 than with Greth the cow.
But one thing at a time. The local team in Zug yesterday began dismantling the arena that took them 10 weeks to set up, and which boasts the world’s largest mobile grandstand. While they are busy with this task, we can review the events of the past ESAF weekend. This blog post is a report on the fantastic atmosphere at the ESAF, how well everything was organized, and how the event went for the Leister team. Silke Landtwing made her Swiss wrestling début for Leister at the ESAF. She shares some of her thoughts and impressions with you here.

Leister at ESAF 2019 in Zug – a retrospective

It is 6:30 on Saturday morning. Actually, much too early to be on your feet, but when wrestling is on the agenda, it does not matter. Getting up early is part and parcel of it, because the wrestlers jog into the arena in Zug at 7:30 am. This is something that no wrestling fan wants to miss. And neither do we. Who are «we»? We are the Leister Group’s managers, executives and around ten other employees, and we nearly never miss a wrestling festival, especially not the Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival in Zug (ESAF 2019). We aim to not only support our wrestlers from the ISV (Central Switzerland Wrestling Association) financially, but in person as fans as well.

Once the fog cleared, the sun shone down brightly on the wrestlers and their fans. We could not have wished for better weather for the ESAF 2019 in Zug. It certainly made up for the fact that it rained buckets while the ISV wrestlers were getting dressed.

What is «Schwingen»?

You have no clue about what «Schwingen» is? Here are some useful links to help you learn more about the Swiss national sport before you read on or perhaps afterwards if you like.

The folks at Leister «chömet drus»

«Chömet drus» is a Swiss German saying which means something like «to know your stuff». On ISV grandstand B, in block B4, on rows 31 and 32, the team from Leister is brimming with wrestling knowhow: Regula von Rotz, Ruth Gabriel, Urs Zimmermann, Reto Britschgi, Roland Beeler, Hanspeter Jung, Max Bucher, Stephan Vogler, Urs Schmid, Heinz Röthlin and, nestled between them, Silke Landtwing is the only wrestling newbie.

Regula and Ruth know all the ISV wrestlers by name. It is almost uncanny. Fortunately, sharing their knowledge with is easy, as they are sitting right behind Silke. Many thanks to Regula and Ruth – I would have been lost without you – and to Bruno von Wyl, who probably planned it this way when distributing the tickets.

Ruth Gabriel, the friendly receptionist from Leister’s headquarters in Kägiswil, is keep track of the schedule for the wrestling bouts, so she always knows who is fighting whom, and in which of the seven sawdust rings. «You know, at the reception desk we have to provide information about everything, all day long,» she laughs.

Rapturous wrestling fans

The fervor among the wrestling fans in the arena is almost impossible to describe in words. So we best let pictures do the talking. In the following video, you can see one of many Mexican waves that the fans created while cheering on the wrestlers.

No ESAF without Swiss musicians

«Who invented it? The Swiss...,» is how Ueli Maurer sums it up in his speech. And it is nearly impossible not to hear it.

Swiss folk music is all around; either from the band or – even better – when the «Büetzer Buebe» Gölä & Trauffer make a musical appearance in the arena. More than 1,000 people attend the impressive opening ceremony, which brings tears to the eyes of more than a few visitors, or at least makes their hair stand on end.

Joel Wicki – The ISV fans’ great hope

22-year-old Joel Wicki from the ISV was one of the favorites to clinch the title of Schwingen King. On Saturday, he really gets going – in each of his four bouts, he puts each opponent on his back within the first minute in the sawdust ring. As a result, he ends the first day at the top of the rankings.


We now know that it was not quite enough to clinch the title this time round. Perhaps he can go one step further next time.

11:00 am. The sun is shining. The atmosphere is heating up.

At 11:00 am, the sun has dissolved nearly all the fog and the atmosphere on the ISV grandstand is growing ever more exuberant and cheerful. Corks pop from bottles of white wine, while wooden platters filled with cheese, salami, ham and bread are passed around. Wrestling fans obviously know what tastes good, and what belongs to a good old wrestling festival. If the rookie Silke had not yet gotten why they always talk about a «wrestling family», she definitely does now. Here, everyone shares everything like you would in a family.

And it is all very friendly, as you would also expect in a good family. President of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer walks around the festival carefree without bodyguards. At what other major event would this even be possible?

Fans are allowed to take glass bottles and knives into the arena with them (for the drinks and snacks). This would be unthinkable at a soccer match.

The wrestling fans also leave the campsite as clean and tidy as they found it. Anyone who has ever cleaned up after an open-air concert knows how unusual that is. And whenever something is left behind, one of the many hard-working «Chrampfer» are on hand to make sure it disappears into the proper trash bin.

What to take

Wrestling fans will need a few ingredients to enjoy a successful ESAF. This is a non-exhaustive list:

  • An alarm clock, so you can get up early enough and not miss a thing.
  • Your ticket – very important!
  • A pair of binoculars, so you can also watch the wrestlers from a distance on the grandstand.
  • «Schwingerkafi» (coffee with plum brandy) for «Z’morge» (breakfast).
  • Basic items for the Schwingen feast: wooden board, knives, cheese, salami, ham, bacon, bread, white wine (especially!), red wine, beer and cups.
  • The schedule and the rankings – after all, not everyone has a Ruth sitting behind them.
  • A small cushion or something similarly comfortable – a day of sitting on the grandstand can be pretty hard!
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, sun hat and a rain parka, because umbrellas in the stands are a big no-no, and you are not always lucky enough to get a seat in the covered stand.
  • The festival guide, so you can find your way around the huge grounds.


FAIRNESS is one of the most important aspects in the Swiss national sport of «Schwingen»; both among the wrestlers and their fans. When Christian Stucki from Bern beats Joel Wicki from Central Switzerland, he is cheered by fans in all stands – though mostly by those from Bern, of course – but that is to be expected.

Summing up with a few figures

ESAF 2019 will go down in history as the biggest wrestling festival ever – and the super-event of the year in the Swiss sporting calendar. To give you an idea of the scale of it, here are some figures regarding the ESAF:

  • 6,000 helpers working 120,000 hours in total
  • 276 wrestlers
  • 8,000 public viewing spaces
  • 8,500 man-days worked by the armed forces and civil defense
  • 70 ha / 172.97 ac of festival grounds
  • 56,500 seats for spectators in the arena
  • More than 100,000 visitors per day, and a total of more than 400,000 (an estimate – impossible to count them all)
  • 10 weeks to set up the arena
  • 3 weeks to dismantle the arena

Food & drink

  • 14'000 l / 3698 gal. of wine
  • 230'000 l / 60'760 gal. of beer
  • 200'000 l / 52'834 gal. of mineral water
  • 100'000 l / 26'417 gal. of soft drinks
  • 58,000 sausages
  • 11,000 chickens

«After the ESAF is before the ESAF»

In an interview with Radio Pilatus, Joel Wicki said: «After the ESAF is before the ESAF.» After all, the next ESAF in Pratteln (canton of Baselland) is not too far off.

We are already looking forward to cheering on our ISV wrestlers. Maybe central Switzerland will manage to clinch the title of Schwingen King at the next attempt.

ISV wreath winners at the ESAF 2019 in Zug – line up, boys