Back then, boxing was prohibited in China. However, the words of Ali seemed to have been kept engraved in the mind of Chinese boxers. When in 1987, following the example of Cuba, the authorities removed the prohibition of amateur boxing, they kicked off their conquest of medals and titles for seasoned Chinese boxers.
Nowadays, China has consolidated their position as one of boxing’s superpowers on the international scene. In the last two Olympic Games, they claimed no less than five medals – three gold, one silver and one bronze. Even Zou Shiming, for many the best boxer in the country’s history, managed to successfully defend at London 2012 the Olympic Games title he had won in Beijing 2008. As well as Olympic success, China has managed to claim 11 medals in World Championships, putting them in twelfth position in the overall historical rankings.
The coaches of the new franchise could well place their confidence in boxers who have participated in the first two seasons of WSB with the Beijing Dragons. From that team, the most famous boxer was Zhimin Wang, who maintained a record of seven wins for only three losses in the two seasons, and who managed to be crowned individual champion of WSB in the first season by beating Kazakhstan’s Yerzhan Mussafirov in the fight for the title. The team of the Chinese capital city also included Yuyu Du (0-2), Wie Liu (1-4), Quingxian Mai (1 – 1) or Dongxu Shang (2 – 2), who notably claimed victory against Mexico Guerreros welter Marvin Cabrera (8 – 2).
The last World Series of Boxing campaign already had Chinese presence with the accomplished Xuanxuan Wang and flyweight Lu Bin who both defended the colours of the USA Knockouts. Wang lost against Ukraine’s Denis Poyatsyka in his only fight, whereas Bin beat Ukraine Otoman’s Kudryakov and lost against Italia Thunders’ Philippines boxer Barriga. Bin, a world youth champion, is currently twelfth in AIBA’s light-flyweight rankings.
There are many candidates to make it to the top of Chinese boxing, as the national team claimed nine medals at the prestigious Giraldo Córdova Cardín International tournament, held in Havana. Flyweight Chang Yong overcame Cuba’s Leodan Nunez to claim gold. Liu Wei similarly triumphed at welterweight, even though it is regarded as one of the Cuban team’s favoured categories.
The fifth season of the World Series of Boxing will thus test the current state of Chinese boxing and measure its growth against the best powers in the world. Such a promising spectacle will no doubt be watched with delight by WSB followers around the globe.