Chessboxing is exactly what it says on the tin: a hybrid of the intellectual demands of chess and the immense physical challenges of boxing. Players – or combatants depending on how you look at it – alternate between three minute rounds of chess and boxing, and either a knockout (KO) or a checkmate is sufficient to grab the victory.
The beginnings of the sport are shrouded in contradictions and mystery. Some say it originated from the comic book ‘Froid Équateur’, written by French artist Enki Bilal and first published in 1992, that portrays a fictional chessboxing world championship.
Others have speculated that it has been around since 1978 when two teenage brothers, Stuart and James Robinson, created a extra-curricular club infusing their favourite past times.
Regardless of who came up with it, the concept was catapulted into the mainstream when New York’s hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan recorded ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin’, a reference to a martial arts film of the same name.
Tim Woolgar, who founded the London Chessboxing Club seven years ago, said:
People had been talking about chessboxing in comics and the arts. I thought, why not pursue it properly, in a sporting context?
The club has come a long way since then: they now have a strong following as a result of putting on a string of high-profile events.
It seems that chessboxing could be the sport of true warriors. I mean in what other sporting context could you dominate someone both physically and mentally?