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Boxing in China Part II: A Tale of Two Decades

By Li Zhenyu (People's Daily Online)

15:44, July 17, 2012

Boxing in China: A Tale of Two Decades (Photo by Li Zhenyu)

"Western boxing in China is now revived!"

More than two decades ago when Li Menghua, the Director of National Sports Committee declared in a resonant voice filling up the sky, it turned a whole new chapter in the story of Chinese western boxing.

By the turn of the year 2006, China has depicted a tale of two decades since the rebirth of the sweet science, two decades of renaissance and reforms, two decades of smiles and tears, two decades of challenges and achievements.

International Debut

The year 1986 and 1987 are two significant years for Chinese western boxing.

In March 1986, boxing officially returned to validity. The next year in April, the China Boxing Association was officially founded. In May, the first national boxing championships were held and in June, the China Boxing Association was officially admitted into the International Amateur Boxing Association as the 159th member.

From then on, China began to appear on the international boxing stage.

The Chinese national boxing team had taken part in a number of international boxing events during this period of time including the Pyongyang International Invitational Boxing Tournament in August in which China reaped two bronze medals.

The Silence before the Storm

The first ray, golden 24k, shined in the darkness of Chinese western boxing after a three-year slump.

Light heavyweight Chongguang Bai bagged the first gold medal for China at the 1990 Beijing Asian Games. It greatly elevated the morale of boxing professionals in China.

However, this perfect storm was followed by a grilling tranquility. China suffered a 16-year gold drought in Asian Games ring. In the meantime, boxing had undergone a stage of stillness in China for the first decade.

At the 1992 Olympic Games, competitors were delighted to face off against Chinese opponents. The best that the Chinese coaches hoped for was that each fighter might stay on his feet a bit longer than the one before him.

The reasons for this are both simple and complex.

First and foremost, in the 90s, China was still on the road to glory lacking the fundamental support for the sport of boxing.

Equally important is that China had never won a worthy medal in any prestigious international boxing tournament.

Besides, pugilism was mainly carried out in the military and rural areas practiced by a very limited number of people, mostly the poor. It lacked adequate participation and attention of a large fan base.

Last but not least, there had been little support for the Noble Art from government, media people and promoters for the first 10 years since the revival of this combat sport in China.

But as it turned out, the stillness was temporary. Maybe it was the silence before the storm.

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