Chessboxing: Brawn Meets Pawn in This Bizarre Sport at a Downtown L.A. Warehouse
Douglas Campbell Rick Santati vs Jason "Mayhem" Miller
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Last night, in a downtown warehouse, pugilists and pawns united to raise money for a worthy cause. The unorthodox fundraising organization Tuxedo Tyrants teamed up with the LA Chessboxing Club to present Brain Meets Brawn, a charity event showcasing the nascent sport of chessboxing. All proceeds contribute to The Tiziano Project, which teaches citizen journalism in war-torn regions of the world.
The concept is simple: Two combatants play a 3-minute round of chess, immediately followed by a 3-minute round of boxing. This pattern is repeated until one of the competitors either checkmates or defeats his opponent in the ring.
Douglas Campbell Matt Wilson vs Peter Van Couvering
Chessboxing's unconventional flavor is characteristic of Tuxedo Tyrants. The group originated in 2008, when co-founders Douglas Campbell and Dan Busby began donning tuxedos and leading formal wear-clad bar crawls through the various neighborhoods of Los Angeles. According to Lora Ivanova, a longtime collaborator with Tuxedo Tyrants who helped organize Brain Meets Brawn, the ability to combine differing elements, whether its drinking and formal attire or boxing and chess, is what fuels this charity organization.
"We are all urban explorers at heart and love social experiments," said Ivanova during a post event interview. "When seemingly disparate disciplines attract, the meeting becomes an opportunity for inspiration and discovery. We share a passion for the unusual which celebrates our eclectic community."
Elisabetta Canalis From left to right: Jeff Martin, Doug Campbell, Marcus Kowal, Andrew McGregor, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Rick Santati and Lora Ivanova.
Several dozen members of said community packed into a warehouse on Spring Street to catch a glimpse of this unusual new hybrid sport. A throng of people surrounded a makeshift boxing ring delineated by police tape. As competitors rotated between intellectual and athletic sparring, DJ Sleeper appropriately alternated between classical music and more bellicose songs such as The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out."
An overhead screen broadcast close-up footage of the chess portions of the matches to spectators clad in what the event organizers described as thrift-store formal. Tuxedos were paired with Chuck Taylors. Ballgowns were topped with neon pink fur coats. Every other head in the crowd was capped by a fedora. The blending of haute couture with hipster flair exemplifies Tuxedo Tyrants' knack for reconciling clashing concepts, as does combining punching and philanthropy.
Douglas Campbell DJ Sleeper providing musical accompaniment for the chessboxing matches
"I was instantly drawn by the notion of turning a stereotypically violent sport into an engine for positive change in the world," said Ivanova. "Chess brings the intellect into the picture, reminding us that conflict resolution requires not just force but also long-term strategy."
Up next: How chessboxing can change lives