Olympic champion to delay pro career for national team

09:08, February 10, 2010      

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China's first Olympic boxing gold medalist, Zou Shiming, has confirmed his commitment to the national team by declining offers to turn professional and instead will defend the title he won in Bejing at the 2012 London Games.

However, the two-time gold medalist at the World Amateur Championships said he had not given up on a professional career.

"Being a professional boxer was my dream when I started and it is not over yet. It's just a few years away," Zou said on Sunday.

"If I could step into a professional ring now, I am sure I could win. I just need a chance and I hope the day comes soon."

After his victory at the 2008 Games, a number of professional federations invited him to take part in their competitions but Zou turned them down to retain his amateur status.

"From a nobody to Olympic champion, I owe so much to those who have helped me. So when the leader asked me to stay (for the London Games), I could not say no," said the 28-year-old.

"But when I returned to my room, I took a heavy sigh. It would take another four years. It will be more difficult when I grow older, for the Olympics and for the pro competition."

A former wushu athlete, the Guizhou native pulled on the gloves at 16.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Zou won a bronze in the light flyweight class and became the first Chinese boxer to stand on the Olympic podium.

In 2005, he won the World Championships in Mianyang, China. Again, he was the first Chinese boxer to do so. He then defended his title at the Worlds in 2007. Still, he didn't become a household name until he turned the bronze medal he won in Athens into gold at the Beijing Games.

China, for the first time, topped the boxing medal tally with two gold medals, a silver and bronze. The team's fine performance encouraged Zou to fight on.

"China's boxing has developed very fast over the past decade. Now that women's boxing has been added to the Olympics, we hope to repeat our success in London in 2012," Zou said.

After 12 years in the ring, he has also discovered how to cope with the brutality of the sport.

"I've learned to face the competition in a more light-hearted way. I just see my rivals as different kinds of food. Some are chocolate, some fruit and my job is to eat them one by one," he said.

Source: China Daily
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