Chessboxing – The Rise of a Bizarre Sport

Chess is a game that takes a lot of mental strength and is very strategic. There are more than a thousand trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion ways a game of chess can be played. To give you a perspective, that’s more than the number of electrons in the universe. There is another book on the number of variants this game is played in. With a game so big and unexpected, humans still need something more, something new every time. This urge for something new led to the creation of a hybrid sport, which seems bizarre but is on the rise. It is ‘Chessboxing.’ 

Chessboxing is a hybrid sport in which two traditional sports – chess and boxing – are combined. The participant competes in alternating rounds of chess and boxing, testing both your mental and physical strength. 

World Chess Boxing Organization (WCBO) takes the patronage of Chessboxing under its wing. WCBO propagates the spreading of Chessboxing to all five continents. The control of aggression plays a big role during a Chessboxing fight. This new sport is based on an old principle of a healthy mind in a healthy body.


But where did it all start? Well, the concept was first coined in the 1979 Kung Fu film ‘Mystery of Chessboxing.’ But that’s not it because French comic book artist Enki Bilal is widely regarded as the inventor of the sport. In his 1992 comic, Froid Équateur, there was the first mention of a chessboxing world championship. 

This was then adapted by the Dutch performance artist Iepe Rubingh, who held the first-ever chessboxing tournament. However, in the comic, the opponents would fight an entire boxing match before they faced each other in a game of chess. Rubingh found this impractical and developed the idea further until it turned into the competitive sport we know today with alternating rounds of chess and boxing, and a detailed set of rules and regulations.

In Berlin, in 2003, the first chessboxing tournament took place, and the same year, the first world championship fight was held in Amsterdam. This was in cooperation with the Dutch Boxing Association and Dutch Chess Federation and under the auspices of the World Chess Boxing Organization (WCBO) that was founded in Berlin shortly before. 

Dutch middleweight fighters Iepe Rubingh and Jean Louis Veenstra faced each other in the ring. After his opponent exceeded the chess time limit, Rubingh won the fight in the 11th round going down in the history books as the first-ever World Chess Boxing Champion.

Chessboxing has also become more popular among women in India, where the sport has been seen as an alternative to traditional roles. Currently, the sport of ChessBoxing is actively developing and growing as a popular and favourite sport for many people who try to find new realization and challenges.

The actual number of local federations are officially registered in countries such as China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Iran, Italy, Madagascar, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, and other many countries. 

There is a desire to see this sport in the Olympics someday. Will it ever be included? Only time can tell, but it will be interesting to see where the sport goes from here on. 

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