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There are some fantastic sports in this world. Football is the most popular sport as it is watched by an estimated 3.5 billion people. It is followed by cricket at 2.5 billion people and basketball at 2.2 billion people. But what makes a sport so great and why do we love them so much? There is so much glory in winning each year and yet the teams will start the process all over again a few months later. To win is to be seen as the greatest at something adored by billions of people. It shows excellence in the mind and body. There is a new sport that is growing quickly that claims to be the greatest test of the mind and body, it is chess-boxing.

Chess-boxing may sound like a joke and that is how it started. An artist by the name of Iepe Rubingh had been reading a dystopian comic book and found that in the future presented people boxed on a giant chessboard. It got him thinking if there was a way to make chess-boxing a reality. At an art installation, he put on a chess-boxing exhibition, and everyone loved it.

The idea behind chess-boxing is to pit players against each other in the toughest physical and mental sports at the same time. Players are asked to compete in alternating rounds of chess and boxing. Each round takes three minutes. The first round is chess and a timer is used to ensure that no one is using the time to take a break from boxing. Players are given the opportunity to remove their gloves before each round of chess. 

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While the first chess-boxing game was at an art exhibition and somewhat of a joke, Iepe Rubingh thought it was such a success and received such a warm welcome that it had to be pursued. He has now largely put his art career on hold as he tries to set up the official world of chess-boxing. 

Rubingh organized the first World Championship for chess-boxing. It was held in Holland and over 1,000 people attended. Rubingh actually came out the winner in the end. In the final match he was losing on the chessboard so he knew he had to fight hard in the boxing. He did so well in the boxing round, landing one punch that rocked his competitor, that his opponent missed an easy opportunity at checkmate. The sport has continued to go from strength to strength. There are an estimated 2,000 fighters in the world today with the largest number coming from India, who have 600 registered. 

The idea of chess-boxing although funny does make sense. There are numerous competitive events that try and test athletes both physically and mentally. However, do any of them come close to the mental prowess required for a game of chess and the physical ability of boxing? Some have argued that the two sports are too different but those involved disagree. They point out the need to study your opponent and plan moves in advance in both games. Two of the greatest fighters of the modern era, Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko are both avid chess players. What we would give to see a chess-boxing match between those two in their prime.

While we love our traditional sports, there is always room for one more. Whether you are a fan of ultimate frisbee, quidditch or chess-boxing doesn’t matter. These sports are incredibly imaginative and have a serious competitive element that makes them incredible for both participants and audiences around the world.

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