America's First Chess-Boxer in the World Championship Tournament

Benefitting Brawl for a Cause

$5,962 by 50 people


Brawl for a Cause

Team Members


$5,335 / 39 donors



On July 26-29th in Kolkata, India, the Chess-Boxing Amateur World Championship will feature 13 countries duking it out to see who is the best combination of brain and brawn. I have signed up to be the first American to compete in such a tournament, and to tell the truth, I’m scared out of my mind and excited beyond belief. 

You may be thinking, like I was, that there can’t be that many people in the world who are good at both the board game, chess and the combat sport, boxing. For such an obscure sport, chess-boxing has resonated with the select few on earth through who were made for this combination of skills. This tournament attracts the blackbelt-rocket-scientist type, of which I am not. If you want to learn more about Chess-Boxing, here is a video explanation.

In fact, out of the 13 countries competing, every other country’s representative has multiple chess-boxing bouts already (except for one, the U-S-of-A). So, why did I decide to chess-box? 

I’ve been asking myself the same thing. It seems crazy, and it is, but I’m determined to see this journey through to its destination. 

While I’m definitely an underdog with just one USA Boxing sanctioned fight under my belt and a little bit of chess instruction when I was a young kid, I may be in a good position to surprise some other competitors. I am prioritizing preparation for this tournament as my primary focus over the next eight weeks, and a dream team of coaches, trainers and mentors have formed around me to help give me the best shot for success. 


  • Coach Isadore - Cuban Olympic boxing coach with 12 Olympic gold medals
  • Breon Smiley - Professional American boxer and coach at X3 Sports
  • Ramone Hayes - Former professional boxer and coach at Strength and Strike in Athens


  • Carlos Perdomo - Colombian National Champion, International Master, and CEO of Chess Atlanta
  • David Hater - Vice President of Georgia Chess and Expert level player
  • Elena Gratskaya - Female State Champion of Georgia 


  • Jon Kolowich - Professional personal trainer and former Brawl for a Cause participant
  • Umama Kibria - Founder of Sweat with ATL and co-Founder of Activvely 

Ballet and Balance:

  • Taylor Fikes - Professional ballerina at Atlanta Ballet and graduate from most prestigious ballet school in the world, Bolshoy in Moscow

Chess-Boxing Mentor:

  • David Depto - The first American to ever compete in a professional chess-boxing match, former professional boxer

So, with rockstars willing to help, I need to absolutely dedicate myself to following their game-plans, heeding their advice, and trusting their expertise. I will push myself as far as I can go in order to fully prepare for my one shot at representing my country the chess-boxing world championship.

Even though I want to do my best in the tournament, winning the world championship is not my “why” for competing. Like our Brawlers, my “why” is the charity I’ve chosen to fight for, Brawl for a Cause. We train, equip and inspire everyday people to literally fight for what they believe in most. Accountants, police officers, CEOs and celebrities fight and fundraise for a cause close to their hearts in our charity-boxing events. Hundreds have brawled for their causes through our program, but as founder of the organization, I still have not. 

So, this is my Brawler’s journey. This is something I’m scared out of my skull to do. This is something I am going to pour everything into for the next eight weeks. This is something I believe in enough to sacrifice comforts and pleasures, to ask donors for support, and to put my face in the way of some fists to benefit my cause. I know the journey will be hard, but with your support, I know I can see it through to the end.

Training, traveling and competing in this event is not cheap. Many of our world-class trainers have graciously donated some of their time to help, and other brands have signed on to support our campaign with equipment and supplies, but we still need financial support to make this campaign work. Our goal is $10,000, and anything over the final cost of the trip will be donated directly into the non-profit to benefit other people fighting for what they believe in most. 

All that said, and from the bottom of my heart:

  • If Brawl for a Cause or one of its Brawlers has inspired you in some way…
  • If the spirit of American patriotism is pulsing through your veins…
  • If you want to support another everyday person in pursuit of his dreams…
  • If Rocky movies and being a big underdog fires you up…

Please consider contributing to this campaign. Any support, even a few dollars, is monumental to me. The fact that you took the time to read this, give what you can, and support this journey are things I’ll be forever grateful for - a sincere thank you from me, the Brawl Team and everyone in Brawl Nation. You are helping take this organization, chess-boxing, and my life to the next level. Brawl on!

- Matt 


Matt Thomas received a new donation from Just another person ...

8 months ago


Dear Matt! Its a huge honor to help you! Reading your story, viewing your social media page! You inspire me! I’m inspired because of you! Hope you know how special you truly are! Because I see it! Your literally perfect In more ways than one! Hope you know that. Good luck, and take my luck too! ☘️ This contribution comes with lots of love!

Matt Thomas received a new donation from Buck Alford

2 years ago


Congratulations on the title! Looking forward to celebrating with you.

Matt Thomas received a new donation from Mike Dowdle

2 years ago


"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." - Muhammad Ali

Anonymous made a donation

2 years ago


Matt - you are an inspiration in so many ways. Congratulations on your world championship!

Matt Thomas received a new donation from Congratulations, Matt!

2 years ago


To the best boxing coach I've ever had, congratulations on winning GOLD!

Matt Thomas received a new donation from taliaferro krusen

2 years ago


Brawlin Bulldawg '88

Matt Thomas received a new donation from Eddie Capel

2 years ago


Well Done Matt - fantastic effort.

Matt Thomas received a new donation from Max Friedman

2 years ago


CONGRATS on bringing home gold!!! Way to take on your own Brawler's journey and absolutely crush it. You are an inspiration. Brawl On!! 🥇🏆🥊

Matt Thomas received a new donation from M[•]Cole

2 years ago


Bring.Home.The.Golden.Chess.Pieces. #BrawlOn my friend!

Matt Thomas received a new donation from Matty Ryan

2 years ago


You got this, Matt. Kick ass today!

Matt Thomas received a new donation from David Williams

2 years ago


Matt Thomas received a new donation from David Deane

2 years ago


Get after it. Loved watching you grow Brawl into a legit organization

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