Muhammed Ali only lost five times in his entire career. He was charismatic, fierce and unbelievably talented. He was both heralded as a hero for his athletic ability and castigated for his refusal to serve in Vietnam. When you think of the word ‘legend’, the chances are you’re thinking of Ali.

But he didn’t play chess.

In 1985, Garry Kasparov become the youngest ever chess World Champion at the age of 22. He held the top spot almost continuously until his retirement in 2005. His career saw some controversy but ultimately he is the undisputed greatest. He now sits on the Human Rights Federation’s board of directors.

…All over the world like-minded people have tried to combine their two passions…

When it comes to boxing however, he is rubbish.

Since the early noughties, a movement has begun. All over the world likeminded people have tried to combine their two passions: chess and boxing. Their love of violence and strategy has become a union of right hook and rook; the Hurricane meets the thinker’s game.

…be in possession of a mean uppercut…

The idea is self-explanatory; six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. The execution is far from simple; you need to have attained at least Class A strength as a chess player, and be in possession of a mean uppercut.

The term ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ seems to resonate here, a sentiment I have whenever I watch the Decathlon; kind of entertaining but I’d rather just watch the real 100m final. But maybe chess boxing is different, more worthwhile. If you think about it, two people facing each other, aiming to destroy and obliterate their opponent’s mind and body is a description you could (tenuously) apply to either sport. They say there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Perhaps there is an even finer one between your mind and your fists.

 

 

About The Author

I've been learning Chinese for 3 and a half years at SOAS. I've lived in London, Beijing, Hong Kong and Oxfordshire. I have a keen interest in film, theatre and literature with an occasional foray into technology. I follow tennis religiously, which makes up for not playing it!

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