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Zou leads new pack of pugilists
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08:13, November 20, 2007

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 Chinese Zou wins world boxing title
 Chinese Zou wins world boxing title
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Newly crowned world boxing champion Zou Shiming said his success in the ring is the best way to showcase China's power in the sport.

"This is my second world championship title and also the second by a Chinese boxer. I used my fist to tell the world that China is powerful," said Zou, who defended the 48kg title at the World Boxing Championship in Chicago, Illinois earlier this month.

Zou outpointed Harry Tanamor of the Philippines to win 17-3 and he attributed the victory to his healthy mood.

"I always told myself to keep a low key against any opponent," Zou said. "I saw myself as an unknown boxer. This enables me to keep composure under pressure."

Zou, 26, has been named as a gold medal hopeful for China at next year's Beijing Olympic Games.

He won a historic bronze medal for China at the Athens Olympics three years ago. It was the best China has ever placed in the Olympic Games.

"The world championship is the best way to tune up for the Beijing Games. And winning the title is an extra motivation for me to fight for a gold on home soil next year," said Zou, who was a Wushu athlete before turning to boxing.

"There are new rivals coming up in this tournament. So we will work even harder to better prepare for the future challenge."

Zou's impressive performances also awarded him the sole MVP of the tournament and won praises from chief officials.

"He is brilliant. He is awarded the tournament's MVP," said Cui Fuguo, director of the Boxing and Taekwondo Administrative Center (BTAC) of State General Administration of Sports.

"He showed stability and became more mature in the ring. He is able to better control the game and give more pressure to his opponent.

"Moreover, officials from the International Boxing Council and coaches of other countries are speaking highly of his skill."

Standing at 1.70m, Zou was not born a boxer. He had to serve as a sparring partner at first.

But he soon showed talent with his feel for pace and quick speed, taking center stage at the 2003 World Championship where he surprisingly made it into the finals.

Although he lost to the ultimate champion, a silver medal at the World Championship was still the best result China had ever achieved in the boxing ring.

Sport on the rise

At the tournament in Chicago China performed as well as it ever has in a world championship, also winning four bronzes in the 57kg, 69kg, 91kg and over-91kg divisions.

China's boxers rarely made it past the first round in major international competitions but have now emerged as strong competitors on the circuit with seven boxers having clinched Olympic tickets.

"Since Bai Chongguang got a gold medal in the 81kg class at the 11th Asian Games in 1990 and Zou Shiming won a bronze medal in 48kg at the Athens Olympics, Chinese boxing has become more and more mature," said Chang Jianping, the chairman of the Chinese Boxing Association and the director of BTAC.

According to Chang, more and more talented Chinese boxers are emerging, a sure sign that the sport is in good health.

"Worlds gold-medal winner Zhang Maomao, Zhang Xiyan and Zou have combined to give boxing a shot in the arm," said Chang.

"Chinese boxing, no matter whether men's or women's, is developing by leaps and bounds," he said. "Many fighters are reaching a competitive international level, particularly in the men's 48kg."

Cui Dalin, deputy director of the State General Administration of Sports, is also pleased to see the rapid progress, especially with the Beijing Games looming.

"The coaching team did a very good job. China now has its own boxing style," Cui said. "All the players showed the confidence and the ability of changing tactics during the tournament. The results are encouraging for our Olympic preparations."

But Cui also tried to cool down some of the high expectations the boxing team faces: "We did have a breakthrough at this world championship. But we have to stay cool as Cuba did not send players and we also had very lucky draws."

China faces rivals from powerhouses like Russia and Cuba as well as threats from Asia.

In Asia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan all pose a threat. The Philippines, Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are all strong in certain categories as well.

Cuba and Russia are the dominant powers in the sport, claiming five and three gold medals, respectively, out of 11 at the Athens Olympics. Russia was also the biggest winner with three golds at this world championship.

Source: China Daily

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