Hong Kong police officer turned boxer Edwin Ng has sparred with Rex Tso – but helping wayward youth means more than winning
The 29-year-old looks to extend his professional record to 2-0 this Saturday, but his work with Operation Breakthrough is just as rewarding
Police constable Edwin Ng Ka-ho relentlessly punches bags and dodges pads in front of a silent group of teens at the Tai Po Police Boxing Club just days before his second professional bout.
At a glance, it looks as if the 29-year-old Hong Kong native is sharing gym facilities with the club’s Operation Breakthrough – a police volunteer initiative to rehabilitate and support disadvantaged or wayward youths in Hong Kong through sport. Quite the contrary; Ng is the beating heart of it all.
“My father, David, took me to the Police Boxing Club when I was 11 years old and I learned to box in Tai Po for over 10 years,” recalled Ng, who has a professional boxing record of one win and no losses.
“He was an ex-inspector for the police force, a Breakthrough boxing coach and deputy chairman of the club. He brought me to the gym and we trained with club founder [and retired superintendent] Danny Lawley, who will be in my corner next week.”
Ng looks to take his professional record to 2-0 against fellow Hongkonger Kwok Ka-hin at Def Promotion’s Road to Glory 2 at Wan Chai’s Southorn Stadium this Saturday.
The super bantamweight won his first professional fight on the undercard of boxing hero Rex Tso Sing-yu’s Clash of Champions III last March.
“Many people asked me how I handled the 8,000 spectators at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for my first pro fight,” said Ng.
“But I was not nervous, I felt confident and excited because I had prepared for months.”
The promising southpaw joined the force after graduating from university and soon became one of Hong Kong police boxing’s flag-bearers both home and abroad.
Ng represented the club in 23 amateur fights, winning 20 and losing three, before turning pro last year.
In 2015, he won a silver medal at the World Police and Fire Games in the US, losing to a Spanish firefighter in the final.
The same year, former undisputed middleweight champion Marvellous Marvin Hagler singled Ng out as the best boxer in a local charity fight.
Ng has even trained with legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach and sparred with hometown hero Rex “The Wonder Kid” Tso in the past.
“When I sparred with Rex for four rounds I couldn’t even see his punches,” Ng recalled. “His footwork and movement is so fast – you wonder how a boxer from Hong Kong is at that level. World class, no joke.”
Posted at the police college as a physical training instructor, Ng has been training six days a week for more than two months.
And while there is a stark contrast between throwing hands in the ring and protecting and serving the Hong Kong public, he insists boxing’s discipline can help his students.
“I taught all the police recruits and probationary inspectors how to box for two years,” said Ng. “As a boxer you need to control your mentality – it can be good for resistance and reaction [scenarios]. You can strike inside the ring but outside of it you’re just a normal person.”
To this day, Ng volunteers to coach the Breakthrough youths alongside fellow success story Sures Gurung.
Nepal-born Gurung entered the programme over a decade ago after the then 15-year-old was arrested for getting into a fight. He is now a decorated pro boxer and coach for the Hong Kong Rugby Union.
“I’m very happy because we can see all the kids growing up through Breakthrough,” said Ng. “Maybe before they were [heading down] the wrong path but after joining I can see they are changing and maturing.
“I really want to be a role model to all of them – if we can do it, so can they. I always tell the kids what my boss used to tell me – if your mind believes, your body achieves. That’s what I remember when I’ve reached my physical limits,” Ng added.
Plenty of police colleagues and Breakthrough students will be supporting Ng in Wan Chai this weekend, but previous ringside experience suggests police-affiliated boxers do not always win the home crowd over.
“If I win [on] Saturday I will keep going, but the result doesn’t matter – I just want the audience to remember ‘Edwin fought hard that night’,” he said.
“Of course, my police work comes first and I don’t want my training to disturb my job,” said Ng, adding that being a pro boxer in Hong Kong means sacrificing a lot of time and money.
“Being a policeman is my job and boxing is my dream. I want to keep working and spend my own time training. At the moment I can balance.
“Everyone in the audience has their own opinions [towards policemen] and I respect that. I’m very proud to represent and fight for the Hong Kong Police.”