Chess-Boxing Hits it Big
Thursday, Jul. 10, 2008 By ADA CALHOUN
TIME Magazine

“It sounds like a gimmick,” admits Hip-Hop Chess Federation founder Adisa Banjoko. But chess and physical combat are being merged not only in the U.S.—where Banjoko’s group advocates combining chess and martial arts as a way to teach kids the importance of strategy and non-violence—but in Europe, where a bloodier version is flourishing. The slogan for the Berlin-based World Chess Boxing Organization: “Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board.”

The chess-boxing combo traces its roots back to a 1992 comic book, titled The Nikopol Trilogy, in which the men of the future box on a chessboard floor. The image inspired Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh to hold—and compete in—the first official chess-boxing bout in Amsterdam in 2003.

Since then, chess-boxing has attracted more than 150 professional competitors, the attention of ESPN Sports Center, even praise from Lennox Lewis. The World Chess Boxing Organization, which now has official training clubs in Berlin, London and Sofia, Bulgaria, calls itself an intellectual fight club. Spokesman Andreas Dilschneider, who is also one of the chess trainers for Berlin’s chess-boxing club, says the dual sport is primed to become “the biathlon of the 21st century.”

The matches work like this: competitors alternate between three-minute rounds of boxing and four-minute rounds of speed chess with one-minute breaks in between to get the gloves off and hunker down at the chess table. The winner is determined by knockout, checkmate, or referee decision.

The 2008 World Champion Chessboxer, Russian math student Nikolaj Sazhin, 19, won the light heavyweight division in Berlin on July 5 in front of a thousand fans, after seizing his punch-drunk opponent’s queen in the fifth round of chess.

Here is the full article.

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