Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Lewis and Klitschko will meet at the chessboard"


Honorary WBC world heavyweight champion the Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko and former world champion Briton Lennox Lewis may come together in a duel once again. However, not at the ring box but behind the chessboard. In 2015, the idea was voiced by the President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. "I recently learned that Lewis occasionally played chess in his spare time, and he used to play chess to have a break from boxing. It turned out that Klitschko, now the mayor of Kiev, is a chess master," the head of FIDE told reporters.

"These famous sportsmen fought in boxing matches. Now we intend to hold a chess match between them. I think that this is a good chance to popularize chess all over the world," Ilyumzhinov said. Recall that the fight between Klitschko and Lewis took place in the summer of 2003. It was stopped by the ringside doctor because of the damage to Klitschko's eye, and Lewis won by technical knockout.
Lennox promised that he would give the Ukrainian a chance for rematch. When Klitschko flew to his office to discuss the conditions, he saw his opponent's mother there. "We discussed the fight for two hours and she did not say a word. She just studied me in silence and it was clear that she was a wise woman. I left, and later Lennox called me and apologized: his mother did not like me, and forbade him to fight me," Klitschko said. In February 2004, Lewis retired.
Lewis and Klitschko really like chess. Lennox participated in amateur tournaments even during his boxing career. It helped him to morally prepare for fighting. "Chess is relaxing. I often sat at the chessboard to have a rest after hard training. My coaches were not enthusiastic about this: they thought that chess slowed down my reaction. But I'm sure it only helped me," Lewis said. After the completion of his career, he often took part in simultaneous chess games in Britain and the United States.
Recall that Klitschko played a game of chess with Russian Vladimir Kramnik in 2012. The grandmaster expectedly dominated but showed nobility in the end. "Instead of announcing check, he offered a draw. I agreed," Klitschko recalls.
The chess match between boxers will be held within the framework of the WBC Congress in Kiev in October. Vitali arranged personally its organization. Participants will discuss boxing problems and further plans, but Lewis is eager to fight Klitschko at the chessboard as soon as possible: "Vitali and I are too old to put on boxing gloves. We would rather beat each other without using our fists, that is, in chess."