Thursday, February 22, 2007


By Mick Hammond

Call it stereotyping, but when someone thinks of a chess prodigy, they more often than not think of a spindly, geeky individual who wouldn’t be very at home in any athletic endeavor. But that’s where Peter Kaljevic is different.

A master chess player originally from the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, Peter defected to the United States 20 years ago and turned his love of strategy from chess to combat sports.

Racking up over 100 fights in various striking disciplines, mainly Muay Thai, Kaljevic has naturally shifted towards MMA and is set to make his debut, along with his Chicago Red Bears team, at the IFL’s event this Friday in Atlanta, Georgia.

So how does a chess prodigy from such a turbulent region as Montenegro end up in the IFL as the lightweight representative of the league’s newest team? As Peter puts it, it’s a story that could be home in any number of Cold War-era political thrillers.

“I was in America to play a chess tournament in ‘84 or ’85 at the Waldorf in Philadelphia, and I just never went back,” explained Kaljevic. “I stayed for the tournament, and then I left the team; they were [actually] looking for me for a while.”

Peter continued, “I stayed with my uncles here, but for a little while I had to live on my own. I was doing a lot of kickboxing, especially Muay Thai, and as soon as I got to know some people here, promoters, I started fighting.”

Even though he began his fighting career after moving to the US, Kaljevic says that fighting has been a life-long passion, and inspired by a martial arts legend.

“I’ve been doing Karate since I was 6-years-old or 7,” said Peter. “Pretty much I liked Bruce Lee movies, like Enter the Dragon, that was the first movie I had seen. It gave me something to look forward to, and then I started from there.”

As for how seemingly opposite pursuits such as chess and MMA integrate, Kaljevic feels they are a natural extension of one another when it comes to strategizing.

(Read More)

No comments: