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Boxing and chess supporting African schools

A sporting event combining cerebral prowess with boxing agility is being staged in Norwich to support an innovative Norfolk charity that uses technology to deliver education to remote African schools.

Chessboxing sees opponents slug it out and then sit down and swap chess moves in alternating rounds in a sport that truly brings brain and brawn together.

Four bouts are being staged at Norwich OPEN on Saturday, October 21, to raise funds for the Yellobric charity’s work in harnessing technology to deliver eBooks and e-Learning platforms to African schoolchildren.

Yellobric founder Gavin Paterson, who farms at Smallburgh, promised: “It will be much more than a sporting event; we have commentators explaining chess moves, there will be a bar, cabaret, DJ and food and there will be a great atmosphere on the night.”

Among the contestants is 25-year-old former UEA student Cameron Little. Now a geotechnical technician, which involves surveying land across East Anglia as a precursor to development, he has been chessboxing for a year and fights under the name of Hurt Locker.

“I think chessboxing coming to Norwich is great,” he said. “It represents the sport growing beyond the confines of London and into other parts of the UK. As I also used to live in Norwich, I am hopeful a few friends will come out and show support.”

Chessboxing has been described as “a wild mix-up of two of mankind’s oldest sporting obsessions” and sees the winner decided by checkmate or knock-out, whichever comes first.

Cameron’s opponent on the night is Matt Gershfield, aka Jock Talk, a British advertising executive based in Amsterdam. Local fighters from Norwich include Prince Titus Beya-Smiler, known to friends as Lambert and with a fight name of the Prince of Pawn. Lambert studied criminology at UEA and is now a key worker at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust working as a mental health specialist.

Cameron started playing chess when he was 10 but also did Tae Kwon Do for about four years. “I’m used to training hard, but I would consider myself more a chess player who boxes,” he added. “Putting the two sports together is the ultimate test of brawn and brain. Remaining sharp over the board gets more difficult after you’ve exhausted yourself on the boxing and taken hits to the head. Add the pressure – there are maybe 500 people watching you – and it is a real challenge.”

Yellobric was formed by Gavin after a visit to Africa and gained charitable status in November 2011. Over the past six years it has delivered e-Learning platforms to schools in Africa and provided more than 300,000 eBooks at a fraction of the cost of conventional novels and textbooks.

Doors open for the chessboxing event at the OPEN Norwich at 7pm on Saturday, October 21, with the first fight at 8pm. Tickets start at £15 (£12 – NUS). For more information and ticket details visit www.londonchessboxing.com or www.opennorwich.org.uk or call 01603 763111.