HHCF Official Announcement. (PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!)
Five Hundred People Attend as RZA Wins HHCF Title Belt in Dramatic Fashion
Oct. 18th 2007, San Jose, CA - The Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) is proud to announce that after a long tumultuous battle, RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan walked away the winner of the 1st Annual Chess Kings Invitational Champion Belt. Over five hundred spectators watched on as celebrities battled out while raising money for the HHCF Education Scholarship Fund. As part of the eight-man chess tournament, RZA battled it out against other rap artists and fighters. Participants included Wu-Tang Clan members RZA, GZA and Monk as well as MMA fighter Ralek Gracie, political rapper Paris, spoken word poet Amir Sulaiman, Casual from Hieroglyphics, and Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends.
The 1st Annual Chess Kings Invitational kicked off with a vibrant discussion on the connections between Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts. Chessmaster and author of The Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin, RZA, Dr. Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum and Rakaa from Dilated Peoples covered how Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts have elevated them beyond their respective disciplines.
After the panel, the celebrity tournament kicked off with a frenzy of flashing cameras and media desperately trying to catch every move played out on the boards. An undefeated RZA quickly faced fellow Wu-Tang member Monk for the final match up. The round began with Monk aggressively and effectively trapping and snatching up many of RZA’s pieces. At the point where many in the room felt it was curtains for RZA, the crowd surprisingly heard the words “checkmate”. Surprisingly, “The Abbot of Wu-Tang” turned it around, winning the match with a back rank mate.
Soon after, legendary Pop-Master Fabel of the Universal Zulu Nation jumped on staged and handed over the 20lb leather gold plated belt over to RZA. With the lights from the camera nearly blinding those on stage, the belt was raised and RZA was pronounced the champion.
All artists volunteered their time and made it possible for the HHCF to raise and give away $10,000 in educational scholarships. Education scholarships were awarded to the participants from Oakland’s Unity High, Youth Uprising, San Francisco’s O’Connell High and Muhammad University of Islam. Despite the frenzy over the champion belt, it did not overshadow the real winners of the event.
“The children are the real winners today” said co-founder Adisa Banjoko. “The undeniable success of the Chess Kings Invitational is a powerful testament to a new era of philanthropy within Hip-Hop.”
In a special match for the day, MMA fighter Ralek Gracie faced the challenging of playing Emma Bentley, the ten-year-old Jr. World Champion journeyed from the UK to participate in this event. In a mere thirty seconds, MMA fighter was checkmated. The over six foot tall MMA fighter took his loss in stride and was proud to participate in this benefit for the children. .
“We are honored that this fantastic group of chessmasters, musicians and martial artists gave their time to the HHCF, the children of the Bay Area and their families” said co-founder Leo Libiran. “Too many times people are gathering around the negative issues involving American youth. We wanted to give everybody something positive to gather around- and it worked!”
The success of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation has inspired many artists to join the efforts and work towards provided options to the youth of today. After the success of this event, the HHCF has named RZA, Director of Development. RZA will oversee many of the HHCF community outreach efforts to troubled youth.
In February 2008, the Hip-Hop Chess Federation will host the All Queens Invitational centered on bringing more young women into chess.
For more information on the HHCF please visit: www.hiphopchessfederation.org
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GZA, HHCF co-founder Leo Libiran, RZA & Monk! Who wants some? Not you!
Photo Credit: AeLeah MacDonald