The knockout of 69-year-old tai chi master Ma Baoguo by a former martial arts coach 20 years his junior in Shandong has been watched around the world, with fans in China and overseas ridiculing the older man for taking on the challenge. Ma was knocked down twice before being knocked out within 30 seconds and taken to hospital, where he recovered and has since left. However, footage from before the fight that shows a conversation between Ma and the fight referee shared on Chinese social media seems to indicate that they were expecting the fight to be one-sided the other way. The referee apparently appeals to Ma to show mercy to his opponent, telling him three times: “I have just one requirement, when I say stop you have to stop, you can’t continue to hit him.” Footage from before Ma Baoguo’s viral knockout where he warns the ref he might hurt him and the ref tells him three times to stop if told pic.twitter.com/C2wsLb6oGP — Jonathan White (@jmawhite) May 21, 2020 Ma for his part warned the referee ahead of the fight, “I am afraid of my [tai chi] routine hurting you” to which the referee replied, “I am not afraid”. As it was, they were right about it being a one-sided fight. Ma had built a reputation for outlandish statements, calling UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili “stupid” and claiming that he could beat her in a fight. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.