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Chengdu Journal: At Chinese Fight Club, One Boxer’s First Rule: Don’t Tell His Parents

This year the partners plan to expand by bringing in professional fighters from across China, and maybe stars from Thailand. For now, the club’s fighters are hardscrabble professionals from local clubs or pure amateurs.

Before Mr. Yan’s fight, he and a dozen or so friends warmed up with a dinner of peppery tofu, and Mr. Yan appeared cheerfully indifferent about his chances in the club. “I haven’t thought about tonight, it’s just for the kicks,” he said.

The famous first rule in the movie “Fight Club” was “do not talk about Fight Club,” and Mr. Yan had his own twist: Do not tell his parents. He inherited his love of boxing from his grandfather, but said his mother and father would be alarmed if they found out he was climbing into a ring.

“They think at my age you should be more stable,” he said.

In the first of three rounds against Mr. Li, Mr. Yan initially appeared to have the upper hand. While Mr. Li went into a defense crouch, Mr. Yan threw down punches as dozens of supporters screamed encouragement.

But Mr. Li had a strategy: Younger and smaller than his opponent, he figured he first had to tire Mr. Yan out. By the second round, Mr. Yan began to flag. In the third round, Mr. Li moved in and began pounding at Mr. Yan — who by the end of the third round was slumped and beaten.

Mr. Wang, the master of ceremonies, hurried the two fighters out of the ring to make way for the next bout, a kick boxing match between two professionals from nearby clubs.

By the final fight of the night, the competitors and the crowd were screaming for more. Yet Wang and Mr. Shi said they wanted to create an even more passionate crowd, by bringing back a cagelike octagon-shaped ring that would let spectators press closer to the fighting.

In the dressing room, Mr. Yan was tearful — losing was harder than he had expected.

But he vowed to return to the club’s ring. “After more time and practice,” he said.

Source: NYT > World

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