“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me…”
Around 1983, Tim “Jesus Christ Superstar” Rice teamed up with ABBA frontmen Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus to create a stage musical entitled “Chess”.
It was a musical version of the Cold War, debuting a year later for what would be a three year run in London’s West End and spawning one massive hit song, the darkly physical “One Night in Bangkok” (excerpted above).
Now, the game of Chess which mimics the strategies and tactics of warfare has long been a cinematic and dramatic metaphor for all manner of conflict.
Except maybe for another oft used cinematic and dramatic metaphor for conflict -- Boxing –- at least until recently…
Perhaps inspired by the Wu Tang Clan’s 1993 hit Chessboxin’ or a French comic book that came along ten years later entitled “Le Froid Equateur”, Dutch fight promoter Iepe Rubingh staged the first Chess-Boxing match in 2003.
Ten years later it’s become a fast growing sport with International championships in three weight classes decided a month ago in Moscow, a competition made up of, as the song from “Chess” says “a little flesh a little history”.
Now, this may all be simply symptomatic of the bastardization of careers that we’re all seeing, wherein you aren’t just a screenwriter or director but the guy who also has to raise the financing and distribute your finished film.
And I don’t know if other hybrid sports are in our future, such as Sudoku/Baseball or NASCAR/Checkers, but I’m told that Chess-Boxing has revitalized the fading attraction of the sweet sport, with former heavyweight champ Valery Klitschko now one of its leading competitors.
Could be that TSN’s hockey-less future will be saved by appealing to those who get their “kicks above the waistline, sunshine”.
Here’s how this fascinating new game works. Enjoy your Sunday.
And here’s that signature 1980’s show tune, in case you’ve been missing it…