Seconds Out, by the Argentine intellectual and novelist Martin Kohan, is a literary ‘who done it’. Its seventeen chapters each covers a single second of the time when the world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey was knocked out of the ring in a title fight in New York. He was allowed to recover by a hapless referee, and managed to climb back in, to resume a fight he should have lost by a knockout.
Woven into each of the chapters is a news item of a mysterious death in a hotel room in Argentina, which took place at the same time as the fight. This was followed up many years later by a journalist. His speculation that the two events were connected was dismissed by colleagues as their lives continued.
Eventually, there is a satisfactory resolution to the story, which I will not reveal.
This is an elegantly written book translated from the original Spanish and one which rewards readers with its power to sustain the themes of boxing, and wider existential issues. It happens to have another unexpected turn for me. In 2016, I began writing a story with the provisional title Seconds Out: A Memorial Hall mystery. My own idea is to draw attention to the emerging mind-and-body sport of Chess Boxing in a ‘cosy’ thriller format. Subscribers to Leaders We Deserve will not be surprised to learn it also touches on political and political leadership.
In 2017, as my own book was approaching publication, I came across and purchased a copy of the Martin Kohan novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can only hope that my own tale, which also has a bizarre boxing match in it, will give as much pleasure to readers as Kohan’s gave to me.
I was browsing yesterday for a book on horses in the Simply Books No 1 emporium. As I did so, my eye was caught by an instruction manual entitled How Not to Write a Novel.
Horse book nicely installed in its gift-wrapped box, I add How Not to Write a Novel to my purchase. It was a sound investment. And, as they say in many a blurb, I read it long into the evening, as the battles of tennis supremacy at Wimbledon pass me unheeded across the room. I tick off various crimes against publication I commit on a regular basis.
Mind reeling from what I had learned, I cross out a load of post-modern film-flam from my uncompleted novel. My previously unnamed narrator gets a memorable name, and faces more heroic challenges.
The title? One comes to mind. But I fear for legal challenges at a later date. Still, I can at least make it the topic of this week’s blog post …
“Chewbakka Jones and the Temple of Doom”
Sports psychologist Chewbakka Jones is attempting to rescue his academic career by identifying the ingredients of sporting success. His most promising pupil is Tim, a would-be chess-boxing champion.
His research, which takes place in a sleepy community centre, is disrupted by an invasion of bats, and disturbing ghostly manifestations. The setbacks are connected to a feud between a wealthy businessman and the Dalai Lama, leader of a secret society operating at the Hall.
When Tim and the Dalai Lama are kidnapped, Chewbakka is reluctantly dragged into a perilous rescue attempt.
Chess Boxing is one of the world’s fastest growing sports, part mind-game, part physical bravery and athleticism. I received notification of an event in London scheduled for April 1st including a political grudge match between UKIP and Lib Dem contestants. I checked to see it was all an April Fool’s prank
Not at all, I was assured. Get down to London to see it happen.
As Leaders We Deserve has more than its fair share of chess-playing subscribers, I thought the event might be worth a little more publicity.
The Chess Boxing Event
Pity the Fool!
Saturday April 1st
Headline bout: the BREXIT BELT
Featuring UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott vs LIB DEM activist Toby White
In this headline bout with political clout there is more at stake than just personal honour. Jonathan “The Tactician” Arnott is a strong club level chess player who fits boxing training around his duties annoying fellow MEPs in Brussels. His opponent and veteran of two previous chessboxing bouts, Toby “Slowby” White will be looking for payback after campaigning unsuccessfully for the Remain camp last summer.
The undercard has a strong Finnish theme with appearances from the giant Viking Lars “Lazarus” Bjorknas and his compatriot Ville “Jukola” Makinen from Helsinki. Cameron “The Hurt Locker” Little, the 6ft 7inch London favourite, returns following defeat in December last year. Also will be hitting the ring, a wily boxer and former junior chess player, Guy Cohen, making his York Hall debut this April.
PLUS: full undercard, live cabaret, DJ, dancing, special guests, announcer extraordinaire Matt Andrews, big screen projection and live commentary so you won’t miss a move!
Venue: York Hall, 5 Old Ford Road London E2 9PJ
Closest tube: Bethnal Green (5mins)
Doors: 7pm. First bout 7.45pm
London Chessboxing has established a loyal cult following over the last six years winning rave reviews from all corners of the media for its totally bonkers mash-up of brains, brawn and pure entertainment. Chessboxing is an unforgettable experience!
“Chessboxing… the muse of our era, crystallizing the symptoms of the system for all to discern.” Karl Ouch, 2015
Meanwhile up north
Your editor is writing a fictional story involving chess boxing, entitled Seconds Out . [Title under protection through ISBN number, 2017].
A well-known regional chess player and amateur boxing enthusiast has offered to audition for the starring role of Tim Hagrid, if film rights are obtained.