Schwingen, the art of Swiss wrestling
EasyJet Traveller

“The trick is to use power, strength and strategy to pin an opponent to the ground” 

Every August the hardest men in Switzerland wrestle to be crowned the king of schwingen, or Schwingerkönig. The prize should they win: glory, respect, and a bull (or if they prefer some cash). EasyJet Traveller sent writer Mike MacEacheran and I deep into the Bernese Alps to find out more about their wrestling tradition. There are no professionals in this sport, even the top champions work part time as mechanics, cheesemakers, farmers or butchers. But they are dedicated sportsmen, squatting 200kg in the gym, training daily, never tiring of having their faces squished into the sawdust whilst practicing techniques. It’s a brutal sport fought by men with beautiful manners – after each epic fight lasting 8 minutes with no breaks they stand up, brush the dust off their clothes and then shake hands with a smile. 

At an evening’s training I also discovered that schwingen is successfully fighting off computer games and youtube by attracting a new generation to it’s sawdust filled practice sessions. Youngsters full of testosterone grappled whilst their proud parents watched on, then later in the evening the men came to show the little ones how it’s really done. I got to capture it all, but thankfully managed to avoid being thrown to the floor. 

The current Schwingerkönig, Matthias Glarner, took time out of his routine to meet with us. He’s a calm and quiet man who works on the cable cars as a mechanic each morning, and trains hard each afternoon. We obviously took him to the top of a mountain for part of our photoshoot, before diving into the ring with him to see what he is really made of. Making swift work of his practice partner I could see the power and poise in this gent. This year he’s back from injury and eager to win another crown. But with many young men making their way up the Schwingen ranks eager for glory, it’s all to play for at this year’s championships. 

Massive thanks to Mike for helping make this happen, to Pete at Ink for the commission, and to the Bernese people for welcoming this strange English photographer into their world. 


How I work and create – a portfolio film

Here’s a short film to give an insight into the way I work and create – think of it as the next best thing to a portfolio meeting. I’m eager to find new ways to keep connected with clients and collaborators during this strange time. So if it leaves you wanting more then let’s have a zoom call or a walk in the park, or even meet up for a drink now that’s a thing again. Just drop me an email to say hello – [email protected] Massive thanks to my agent Germaine Walker for helping me to create this, to Girls In Airports for letting me use their beautiful music, and to BAFTA, British GQ and Peter Beighton for allowing me to use their video footage.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London - The Sunday Times Magazine - Sadiq Khan – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

Sadiq Khan – The Sunday Times Magazine

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Jake - FaceTime portrait photographed during lockdown - Project Isolation – Zebedee Models and Germaine Walker - Charlie Clift

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Coca Cola - Coca Cola and the Premier League – M&C Saatchi - Charlie Clift

Coca Cola and the Premier League – M&C Saatchi

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Jeremy Clarkson - The Sunday Times Magazine - Jeremy Clarkson – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

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First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon - The Sunday Times Magazine - Nicola Sturgeon – The Sunday Times Magazine - Charlie Clift

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Matt Tomlinson - recipient of Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and Military Cross - Tribute Ink exhibition in London – The National Army Museum - Charlie Clift

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Tribute Ink is open until 17th of April in the National Army Museum in London. Do head on down to see the stories behind the tattoos and to learn about the history of tattoos. Also – if you’re around on the 4th of March we will be holding a special evening event at the NAM – do come on down then to say hello. It’s been such an honour to be involved in this fascinating and moving project, massive thanks to Royal British Legion for asking me to photograph it for them. To see the whole project click here: LINK To find out more about the exhibition head over the the NAM’s website: LINK