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Chess Boxing, An Actual Sport That Tests Both Brains and Brawns




  • Chess boxing traces its roots to a 1992 science fiction comic book by cartoonist Enki Bilal.
  • Since the first match was held in 2003, the sport has gained popularity in many countries.

Originally, chess boxing was just a bizarre idea for a comic book story. More than a decade later, it eventually became an actual sport.

Chess boxing is a unique game the challenges both the physical and mental strengths of its players. And for the audience, it’s also pretty interesting to watch.

It’s definitely a game like no other!

It was French comic book artist Enki Bilal who initially came up with the concept for his sci-fi graphic novel Froid-Equateur back in 1992. Fast forward to 2003, the first chest boxing match was held in Berlin, Germany. Now the sport has reached different countries including India, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Photographer Laura Pannack, who took chess boxing players’ photos at the London Chess Boxing Championships, shared:

“You never know what forms a chess boxer. You can tell [the participants] come from lot of different backgrounds and I found that incredibly refreshing.”

The rules are pretty straightforward.

In chess boxing, competitors play 11 alternating rounds between chess and boxing. The chess rounds last four minutes each while the boxing rounds last three.

The winner is decided either by a checkmate, a knockout, or whoever achieves the most points at the end of a match.

London Chessboxing founder and World Chessboxing Association president Tim Woolgar said competitors often come from all walks of life.

He said:

“It tends to attract people who are original thinkers. They tend to be independent spirits with the ability to take on a challenge that other people would be afraid of. You have to be courageous to be a chess boxer because you’re a bit of a pioneer.”

And while others may think that the sport mashup is unlikely, Woolgar believes it’s a perfect combination.

As he pointed out:

“It always looks weird two boxers sitting down playing chess about to start punching each other out in a few seconds but it works really well. The chess is an externalization of boxer’s inner mind and the boxing is the externalization of the chess player’s inner mind.”

Watch this video to learn more:

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