The 'Yao Ming' of boxing debuts with KO

Updated: 2014-07-21 23:32

By Lian Zi in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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The 'Yao Ming' of boxing debuts with KO
Taishan Dong (center) raises his hands showing victory after he defeated Alex Rozman during a boxing game at Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco, California Friday night. Lian Zi / China Daily

Chinese heavyweight boxing giant Taishan Dong won his professional debut match in the US by a knockout in San Francisco on Friday.

In the first round, Dong quickly went to work landing heavy and powerful punches on his opponent Alex Rozman, an Iowan from Davenport.

In the second round, Dong precision punched Rozman with left-right combos and then a flurry of rights to the head that landed Rozman on the mat unable to rise.

Dong raised his hands in victory after Rozman told the ref he was done. Dong won his first knockout in a record time of just five minutes.

"A KO doesn't always happen in the first few minutes,"said John Bray, Dong's trainer and a former heavyweight boxer himself. "I am very satisfied and happy with his performance, since it is his first professional appearance."

Nicknamed "The Great Wall”, 26-year-old Dong, at 6'11"and 283 pounds, is a former basketball player and has only been training seriously in boxing for a year and a half. A native of the northwest Chinese province of Gansu, he is now a signed member of the Glendale Fighting Club.

"I came to US because I hope to move to a higher level. The US is strong in sports. As a Chinese, I would like to challenge myself and prove to the whole world that we Chinese can also be strong,"Dong said.

He took his fighting name, Dong, several years ago after he climbed Mount dong, one of the Five Great Mountains of China. "When I reached the peak and looked down, I liked the feeling and I want to have that feeling again when I'm at the top of the boxing world,"he said.

Although Dong is still a work in progress, many people are optimistic about his future in the sport. "Compared to other professional boxers, my disadvantage is lack of experience,"he told China Daily. "But I can handle it with my physical advantage, great speed and power.”

"I've never felt that kind of power from any other fighter I've ever worked with,"Bray said. "He is a very big and strong man, but he's super athletic. Also, because of his culture and background, he is very humble and teachable. I believe that is a common advantage among Chinese boxers."

Bray believes Dong has the capability and potential to do better. He told China Daily, "I think he can make rapid progress, perhaps he didn't show it today, but he will show it in the near future.”

"From the company's view, we expect him to keep fighting and getting better and better,"said George Gallegos, Dong's manager. "He could become the best Chinese champion — the Yao Ming of heavyweight boxing in the US."

Dong has encouraged other Chinese boxers to come to the US to learn and practice with American boxers. Zhang Zhilei, who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will also debut as a heavyweight pro in Nevada next month. He is now training in New Jersey.

Dong is scheduled to fight next in Los Angeles after several months.

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