Lars ’Lazarus' Björknäs
Lars debuted internationally as the first Finnish chessboxer in 2014, as he represented the Finnish Chessboxing Club in Berlin. Since then he has always raised his hand when a Finnish chessboxer – bear sized – has been inquired to face an opponent. This heavyweight chessboxer is also known for being respectful to other people and he always offers his helping hand to anyone in need.
His fighter name was given to him by his peers, who were inspired by Lars "if you fall, you just stand up and continue fighting" state of mind, which he seems to apply not only inside but also outside the ring.
Year of birth: 1975
Current residency: Helsinki
Chess ELO rating: 1200
Weight class: Heavyweight
Amount of matches: 5
Were you active at a young age or what kind of sport did you follow the most at that time?
I was moderately active, as everyone who lived in Vaasa in the happy 80's. I remember that my favorite sports were mainly the ones where Finland succeeded, for example, ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
Why did you become interested in chessboxing?
I got excited right away when I heard about this sport, as I had been boxing for a long time and I also had been playing chess with my friends. For some reason I have always liked combined sports, such as the Nordic Combined, as well as the decathlon.
To what extent do you regard that chess and boxing are different or related?
In a tactical sense they are very similar! In addition, one can get a headache either by playing chess or by boxing.
Do you feel your strength is in either chess or boxing?
Adequate skills in both sports are essential, but in order to win one has to maximize all potential skills, which may differ depending on the opponent and how things roll in the chess and in the boxing rounds. I would think that my strength is somewhere in the middle.
What has chessboxing brought into your life?
Chessboxing is a nice way to stay fit, and it sure has been great that at this age I can still compete in the ring.
Which chessboxing match has stuck in your mind the most?
Sakari Lähderinne’s World Champion Tournament match in Turkey, where he was almost losing in chess, but won by knockout in the boxing round. It was truly a legendary chessboxing match.
Have you ever been worried about the possible injuries caused by heavy weight boxing?
It would be foolish not to worry. However, chessboxing is not streetfighting, as the ring referee will immediately stop the fight if one is causing too much physical pressure, which may cause excessive damage.
You have registered to participate as a fighter in the Nordic Chessboxing Event. Do you prefer any kind of an opponent, for example would you have a specific country in mind?
Country and age don’t really matter. I’m satisfied with facing an opponent who is roughly the same size and is competitive enough. Anyone will have to face my sneaky chess moves and mighty punches!
Are you usually aggressive in chess, or is your game strategy built more on the defense?
My style is based more on the defense, I think it reflects my character.
Finally, did something essential go unnoticed about chessboxing?
It has been great to notice how chessboxing has evolved in Finland, especially after former professional boxers like Sakari have joined. I’m confident that people will see really high-quality chess and boxing at the upcoming event.
Interviewed by Tero Pajunen | Photo by Olli Leppänen
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