Lennox Lewis - The Master of Chess Boxing

Yahoo! recently ran an interesting story about England's Lennox Lewis prior to his reclaiming the heavyweight title from Hasim Rahman. Emmanuel Steward, who serves as Lewis' trainer, talked about the champion's affinity for playing chess before bouts. "I honestly don't like him playing chess,'' moaned Steward, ''I mean I see him sitting there for ten minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one. And he actually does the same thing in the ring - he thinks too much.''

Those of us in the chess world know that having a clear strategy is a vital part of the evolution of a competitive match. How is it that this trainer cannot understand that a great part of boxing is based on clear strategic thinking? In both chess and boxing, there are tactics, combinations, long-range planning, an endurance element, and of course knockouts.

Lennox Lewis

Legend Muhammad Ali proved time and again that a thinker can defeat a vicious bruiser. Who would have thought that Ali would defeat the hulking George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle?" How about the powerful "Smoking" Joe Frazier? Go back and watch these classic fights and you'll see that Ali was the penultimate chess player in the boxing ring. He proved you can't just go for "kingside attacks."

Boxing entails devising a long-term strategy and then employing tactics such as hitting the opponent with numbing body shots and lightening-quick combinations. One also confuses the opponent by using different looks (stances) and dazzling footwork. What is certain is that Lewis will need to use all of his chess skills to defeat
Mike Tyson (the Kasparov of boxing) in their imminent bout.

Yahoo! Article on Lennox Lewis

Posted by The Chess Drum: 27 November 2001