Patrick “Big Swiss” Schmid has invested some of the best years of his life into his martial arts dream – a dream that will now continue on the global stage.
“ONE on TNT I” is a massive event, with Schmid and opponent Rade Opacic ready to thrill the fans in their heavyweight kickboxing contest on North American prime-time television this Wednesday, 7 April.
It’s a colossal matchup, both figuratively and literally, as “Big Swiss” will have the chance to make a huge impression in his promotional debut.
With just days until fight night, we look back at Schmid’s journey to The Home Of Martial Arts.
From Zurich To New York… And Back
The 34-year-old striker was born and raised on the fringes of Zurich, Switzerland, where his father was in the banking industry and his mother took care of him and his three younger sisters.
“Where I grew up, it was more on the outskirts of the city, so we were right next to the woods. It was nice. We played outside and rode our bikes in the woods. You didn’t have to be watched by your parents all the time,” Schmid recalls.
“Big Swiss” wasn’t an avid student. He much preferred to be in the great outdoors, though he did enjoy sports and went through brief stints in various martial arts — including judo and karate — as an energetic youngster.
Then at the age of 10, he moved with his family to New York, USA, when his father was offered a transfer across the Atlantic for work. In North America, Schmid enrolled at an international school where he could start to learn English, but it was a vastly different life to the one he had known.
Sport remained a constant, as he continued with soccer, played American football, and tried out taekwondo, but the rest of his day-to-day required adjustments.
“We lived in Westchester County, which wasn’t in the city of New York, but the state. It was suburban, but it was really different. In Europe, you could just go out and play, but in New York, if you were out alone, everybody was like, ‘Where are your parents?’” he says.
“I didn’t really have any friends there because it’s all houses and there are not a lot of kids out on the streets playing, so it was hard.
“I always say I learned English watching Cartoon Network. We didn’t learn before we went, we just sort of picked it up from watching TV and talking to people.”
Five years later, the family moved back to Zurich, where Schmid was forced to find his way once again.
Finding His Feet With Martial Arts
In his homeland, Schmid struggled to get back into the swing of things. But after three turbulent years, he found some consistency with a role — and then made an interesting discovery.
“It took me three years to adjust back. I had some different things going on, and I ended up doing an apprenticeship as an electrician,” he says.
“This was around 2005 when I was 18, and there was a place I walked past every day on my way home from the bus station. I always enjoyed martial arts, doing a year of this and a year of that, but this was the start of me really getting into it.
“The place did silat, but my coach always said, ‘A punch is a punch and a kick is a kick,’ so we would do everything. I had my first fight after around five months, and then I competed in everything — sanda, silat, kickboxing, boxing, and Muay Thai.”
His coach was only teaching three days a week, but “Big Swiss” was there religiously. As he started to do well in competition, his coach saw the potential and offered up more training.
“I kept winning and my coach said, ‘Maybe we should take it more seriously, put a fight team together and train every day?’ I said, ‘Sure!’ So we started to train six days a week and grew together,” Schmid continues.
“I remember being really nervous for my first fight, then getting very tired, but I won, so it was great. I’ve lost fights too, but there’s always the rush, and then you always want the bigger fights and bigger stages.”
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Close To Losing It All
Schmid rose through the ranks from amateur to pro and compiled an impressive resume across a variety of combat sports. He also claimed a slew of titles along the way.
“Big Swiss” went to Thailand for 10 months and won seven straight bouts — five of them with a broken hand that eventually forced him to return to Switzerland. What’s more, he competed against former multi-time Boxing World Champion Anthony Joshua in the amateur ranks of “the sweet science.”
He was fully invested in his competitive career, but it almost came to a premature end at the start of 2020.
A coach suggested “Big Swiss” try his hand in professional boxing, so he set about getting his license until a mandatory brain scan came close to derailing him for good.
“I had to do an MRI, and they said I had to stop fighting because of some issue with the blood vessels. Even snowboarding, bungee jumping — anything where my head might make sudden movements. That wasn’t an easy time for me,” he reveals.
Thinking that his dreams were shattered, Schmid drowned in his sorrows for almost three months. At that point, he decided to get a third opinion from another specialist.
“The final doctor said, ‘Oh no, it’s just a mistake in the picture.’ She did another MRI and said it was misdiagnosed. There was no problem or no extra risk at all,” Schmid says.
“The first thing I did was get mad. It wasn’t a relief, I was just mad. But the timing was bad, too. A week after I was cleared, the lockdown happened and fighting was out the window. But the main thing was that it was not over yet.”
“Big Swiss” could not compete during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but then ONE Super Series came knocking to reignite his dreams once again.
“I had worked so hard for a goal and was so close to reaching it, then they’re like, ‘Nope,’” he says.
“But I realized how much it means to me and how much you miss it when it’s not there. It makes me want to come back harder, and now my comeback fight is also my biggest fight, so everything has worked out.”
All-In For ONE Success
The decorated striker is now hungrier than ever to showcase his skills in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
He has a monumental first test in Opacic, who’s scored KO wins in both of his ONE appearances. But after nearly having the rug pulled from under him, “Big Swiss” is ready for anything.
“In my opinion, this is my biggest achievement yet. There’s nothing else out there like ONE at the moment. It’s the next level, and for me, it’s all about levels,” he says.
“I want to take it fight by fight, and just see how far I can take this thing. I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into this. It’s what I’ve been planning my life around for years.”
With Opacic’s current form making him one of the fastest rising stars in ONE Super Series, Schmid knows he can take some of that shine with a victory on 7 April.
Still, he doesn’t just want to win. He wants to do so in a way that will make the fans remember his name and show the matchmakers that he’s a top contender.
“If I beat him now, it will push my name even further,” Schmid says.
“Quick knockouts can happen to anyone, but if you have a good matchup where you can show what you practiced, that’s great for everyone – when you have to earn it and when you’ve had some hardship to battle through.”