Even before the Federal Wrestling and Alpine Festival, the women choose their wrestling queen. But it hardly interests.
The arena for the Federal Wrestling and Alpine Festival held 50,000 visitors at the end of August in Pratteln (BL). The festival costs over 40 million Swiss francs. The competitions are broadcast on television, wrestling kings such as Jörg Abderhalden, Kilian Wenger and Matthias Sempach are Swiss celebrities. But do you also know Diana Fankhauser, Melissa Klossner or Angela Riesen?
They are the favorites for the women’s Swiss wrestling festival, which takes place a week before Pratteln. In the 500-strong village of Uezwil in Freiamt, Aargau, in front of a maximum of 1,000 to 1,500 spectators. On August 20th, there will be no swinging in an imposing arena, but on the farm of the Michel family. There is no winning ammunition to be won, but a winning cow.
The women have been there for 30 years
There are around 200 active wrestlers in Switzerland, compared to around 6000 active wrestlers (both figures including young people). After all, the number of women is increasing, almost doubling within five years. But women have so far remained a side note in wrestling, although the first women’s wrestling festival was organized in 1980 and the women’s association has existed since 1992, i.e. for exactly 30 years. And although the European Championship in women’s football shows that things could be different.
Football in particular is a motivation for women wrestlers, says Natalie Siffert, head of media at the Federal Women’s Wrestling Association. “30 years ago it was unimaginable that the women’s EM would be broadcast on television. So it will take a certain amount of time before women’s swinging is accepted.”
As with football, the same applies to wrestling: the fights are just as exciting, emphasizes Siffert. “The only difference is that the women have less speed. But that is an advantage: You can see the turns much better. With men, it often happens very quickly. The opponent is lying on his back, but you couldn’t see how it happened.”
Less money, less audience
Nevertheless: So far, there has been a lack of a large audience for women’s wrestling. Probably also because the big money is missing. In their letter of invitation to the media, the local organizers even mention that they did not have the financial means to advertise. One is therefore dependent on the “goodwill of the media”.
It’s not easy because we’re a fringe sport.
This is also confirmed by association official Natalie Siffert, who, like all her colleagues in the association, works on a voluntary basis. It is difficult to find sponsors for this fringe sport. ‘It’s coming slowly. At least we were able to win a main sponsor. But the road to get there is difficult and rocky.”
The wrestlers and their association remain modest. “We are satisfied that after a two-year break we can once again choose a wrestling queen,” says Natalie Siffert. She also hints at what women already have ahead of men: there is a wrestling queen every year – in contrast to the bad guys, who only choose their king at a federal event every three years.