A challenge is a request made to the holder of a competitive title for a match between champion and challenger, the winner of which will acquire or retain the title. In some cases the champion has the right to refuse a challenge; in others, this results in forfeiting the title. The challenge system derives from duelling and its code of honour. While many competitive sports use some form of tournament to determine champions, a challenge match is the normal way of deciding professional boxing titles and the World Chess Championship. Some racket sports clubs have a reigning champion who may be challenged by any other club member; a ladder tournament extends the challenge concept to all players, not just the reigning champion. At élite-level competition, there is usually some governing body which authorises and regulates challenges, such as FIDE in chess. In some cases there is a challengers' tournament, the winner of which gains the right to play the challenge round against the reigning champion; in tennis this was the case at Wimbledon until 1922 and in the Davis Cup until 1972. The FA Cup's official name remains the "Football Association Challenge Cup", although not since its second season in 1873 has the reigning champion receive a bye to the final. The America's Cup is contested according to the terms of its 1887 deed of gift between yachts representing the champion yacht club and a challenging club. Since 1970, the usual practice, by mutual consent, is for an initial formal "challenger of record" replaced by the actual challenger after a qualifying tournament. However, in 1988 and 2010 there were court cases arising from non-consensual challenges.
When the champion dies or otherwise vacates the title, a tournament among leading contenders may be used to crown a new champion prior to the resumption of challenges.
- Lineal championship, where each champion has defeated the previous champion
- Gorn, Elliott J. (Fall 1986). "John L. Sullivan: 'The champion of all champions'". The Virginia Quarterly Review. 62 (4): 614.
- Grasso, John (2011-09-16). Historical Dictionary of Tennis. Scarecrow Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780810872370. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- "America's Cup - A Brief History of the Challenger of Record 1970-2017 - from CupInfo". CupInfo. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
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