Chessboxing. Yes – you did just read it correctly, and it’s a very real phenomenon. And indeed, it is exactly what it says on the tin; a hybrid sport combining chess and boxing. While the two could hardly be more disparate, chessboxing is slowly but surely spreading across the globe, and changing from a quirky curiosity into a respectable sport with Olympic ambitions.
It sounds rather comical; imagine two bulky boxers, sweating, bend over a chessboard in intense concentration. In fact, the whole idea actually came from a French comic book called Froid Équateur by Enki Bilal. In the scene, two rivals challenge each other to find out who is both mentally and physically superior. In 2003 this was picked up as something that could work in real life and thus chessboxing was born; the ‘ultimate sport’ testing both body and mind.
The rules are simple: two opponents, eleven rounds and one boxing ring. Place in the middle a chessboard where the fighters start with a 4-minute round of speed chess. This is followed by a 3-minute round of boxing (gloves on, board set aside) after a minute break. These alternating rounds continue until one player wins either by check mate or knock out.
Now Canadian filmmaker David Bitton is eager to tell the story of chessboxing. With his company Anonymous Pineapple Productions, he is in the process of making the first feature-length documentary exploring this bizarre and exciting sport.
What are the funds for?
For two years Bitton – using his own money – has flown across the world to follow the stories of the three chessboxing strongholds; Berlin, London and Los Angeles. All three have their own take on the sport and all three are trying to seize its potential. Even in this young sport, there are explosive rivalries, rebellious clubs and individual struggles.
Bitton captured everything on film; all he needs to do now is turn over 200 hours of footage into an epic documentary. He needs $35,000 to shoot the final bits and get it through the edit and post production. So far, at almost $20,000 he is getting close, but with just 2 days to go on his Kickstarter campaign he can clearly use some more backers. Bitton is aiming to finish the project in spring of next year and wants to screen it at international documentary festivals.
Why this could be a success:
Since its official birth ten years ago in Berlin it’s come a long way. Small try-out matches quickly transformed into sell-out global championships. Apart from Germany, there are now chessboxing gyms all over the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, India, Italy and South Africa.
The uniqueness of the sport is one of chessboxing’s biggest strengths. It’s entertaining to watch and as a new sport it is also very accessible – both for contenders and spectators. But chessboxing is now at a crucial stage, will it mature into a professional sport or will it just be a flash in the pan? The movie ‘Chessboxing: The King’s Discipline’ will not only show what the sport is all about, and how it came to be. It will also capture where it is headed in the next decade. You have to see chessboxing to believe it, and that is exactly what this movie will do, and it will demonstrate how much fun of a sport it is to watch.
Why we think you should support this doc:
With a minimum of a $1 pledge, the threshold to back this project is low and it doesn’t have to leave you out of pocket. Furthermore, Bitton offers lots of interesting goodies, including chessboxing photo prints, t-shirts, caps, VIP treatments and even a full size painting by Bilal for the more generous backers.
But more importantly this is a unique project that has already had a lot of blood, sweat, tears and passion poured into it. Bitton has been following the sport at exactly the right time, and it would be a waste to leave the footage unused. Furthermore, it could help to seize the moment for chessboxing itself and get more people playing and watching this fun, interesting and unique sport.
And finally, we think you should support this doc because really, you know you want to see these chess-playing box champions in action.
To find out more about the campaign and show your support, visit their Kickstarter page.