Chess Boxing

King punch: Chess boxing is becoming a worldwide sport.

King punch: Chess boxing is becoming a worldwide sport.

The ultimate combination of brains and brawn, chess boxing is exactly what it sounds like: a game half chess, half boxing. Each round of chess lasts four minutes to every three minutes of boxing, cycling five times, with a total of eleven rounds all up. There’s a one-minute break between each round for the competitors to cool-down or psych-up.

Chris Levy is a chess boxing competitor from London. In an interview with Al Jazeera, he says the hardest part of the game is transitioning from one to the other.

“You’ve been in the ring trying to knock out your opponent, your adrenaline is going, your heart is pumping at 170 beats a minute, and then you have to sit down and really concentrate on a game of chess,” Levy says.

With such an absurd hybrid sport, one can’t help but wonder who came up with this crack-pot idea and why.

Origins of Chess Boxing

chess boxing comic

Comic start

Chess boxing was first conceived by French comic book writer and artist, Enki Bilal. The oddball sport first appeared in his 1992 sci-fi comic, Froid Équateur, which, besides featuring chess boxing, also includes cryogenic sleep, a nuclear apocalypse and flying pyramids. Suddenly the chess boxing part doesn’t sound so weird.

Becoming a real sport

From here, Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh decided to bring this fictional into the real world. Originally planned as a piece of performance art, it became so popular he decided to organise an international competition.The First European Chess Boxing Championship took place in Berlin in 2005 and from there, the rest is history.

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