Hong Kong’s reputation as the centre of the martial arts world was arrived upon mostly thanks to the exploits of its stars on the big screen as, firstly, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung Kam-bo and then Jet Li Lianjie, Donnie Yen Tze-dan and others tore their opponents – and sometimes even each other – apart. But cinema is fiction whereas history itself is built on fact. Though their names might remain unknown to most outside martial arts communities, Hong Kong has produced and played host to some of the most fearsome fighters on the planet. Through promotions such as the long-forgotten Full Contact Boxing Association – which rose and then disappeared in the 1980s – they delighted fans in their thousands, and took on all-comers. Here, the Post plays tribute to some of these masters of martial arts Kong Fu Tak How Hong Kong’s long-lost fight club was confined to history Fight name : Kung Fu Tak Born : November 26, 1956 Height : 1.75m Weight : 64kgs-70kgs From : Hong Kong Fighting style : Muay Thai, kick-boxing Kong took a winding path towards eventual martial arts superstardom in the 1970s and ’80s as one of the founders – and champions – of Hong Kong’s unique Full Contact Boxing promotion. It saw him go from the streets of Kowloon, to the gyms and fighting rings of the East End of London, and then back home to establish his career – and his legend. Bouts against international superstars in Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and Billy Chow carved Kong’s name into martial arts folklore and he has continued to spread the message over decades since, promoting fight nights and training thousands of martial artists through a gym empire that spreads across Greater China. His form : Fearless fighter always coming forward, Kong’s Muay Thai training gave him a lethal weapon – his knees – which he could unleash in the clinch with explosive power. Eldy Chan Man-yee Fight name : Fiery Fighter Born : July 31, 1959 Height : 1.68m Weight : 60kgs From : Hong Kong Fighting style : Muay Thai, kick-boxing, karate, taekwondo, boxing, kung fu A quick end to a fledging life spent tearing up the Shek Kip Mei street fighting scene of the ’70s came down on Chan when he was packed off by concerned coaches (and family) to Japan. The idea was that time spent at a strictly regulated kick-boxing school would focus his attention – and his impressive all-round fighting skills. It worked. Chan returned home a changed man, and expanded his stand-up repertoire into Muay Thai – and more – which led to a starring role with the Full Contact Boxing crew. Chan now helps keep the FCB spirit alive through his role as founder and permanent honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Muay Thai Association. His form : Unique punching power with trademark knockout strikes, and a frightening arsenal of knees and kicks. But mostly it was about those hands, and the combinations. Ponson Sin Lam-yuk Fight name : The Big Gun Born : October 27, 1955 Height : 1.75m Weight : 61kgs From : Hong Kong Fighting style : Tai sing pap kar moon (monkey axe fist) kung fu This one-time wild man of Wan Chai knuckled down when he left the street fighting scene behind and dedicated his life to martial arts in his early teens. Sin became an Asian martial arts champion while still spending (most of) his days at school. He later found a welcome home under the Full Contact Boxing promotion umbrella were judges relaxed rules to allow more fighters to cross over styles. Famously fought in Saigon during the dying days of the Vietnam war. Has spent decades furthering the cause of martial arts through his tai sing pap kar moon schools. His form : Speed and accuracy were his calling cards and the flourish usually came from Sin’s rapier-like strikes – from hands and feet – which could pick apart any defence. Billy Chow Born : August 24, 1958 Height : 1.80m Weight : 69kgs Fight record : 45-8 From : Calgary, Alberta, Canada Fighting style : Kick-boxing, Muay Thai, boxing Chow was a superstar in the martial arts world thanks to a welterweight world kick boxing title (won in 1984) before becoming a star of the silver screen during the glory days of Hong Kong cinema in such hit action films as Pedicab Driver (1989) and Tai Chi Boxer (1996). He still found time to build on his fight record, too, most famously in his clash against Kong Fu Tak – at QEII Stadium in June 1983 – in the bout that brought the city to a standstill. Chow continues to coach and guide the next generation of martial arts warriors. His form : Height and reach advantage meant his striking was devastating and allowed him to keep opponents literally at arm’s length. Chow was a master of ring craft, and seemed to always be in control. Hung I-Hsiang Born : 1925 Died : 1993 (aged 68) From : Taipei, Taiwan Fighting style : Xing yi quan (form intention fist), baguazhang (eight palm), Shaolin kung fu, tai chi Looks can be deceiving, as was the case with the roly-poly Hung, a groundbreaker in that he encouraged generations of students to mix their martial arts skills by learning as many styles as they could. He also travelled across Asia to learn how other national martial arts systemised their fighting styles. The big guy never backed down on a challenge, either – with scores of bouts (for both demonstrative and personal purposes) chalked up over the decades. Those who saw Hung at his peak say he moved like lightning, and could send far bigger men flying with a single strike or shove. His form : Incredible balance allowed him to shrug of attacks with a hip swivel and lightning hand speed allowed him to throw strikes from all angles, at serious speed. Wong Shun-leung Fight name : King of Talking Hands Born : May 8, 1935 Died : January 28, 1997 (aged 61) Height : 1.68m Weight : 54kgs From : Hong Kong Fighting style : Wing chun Rumours still swirl around the legend that was the “King of Talking Hands”, and also the man credited with adding the edge to the fighting skills of Bruce Lee (after Lee had been given his grounding in martial arts from Ip Man). An aeon before the phrase MMA was even whispered, Wong crossed combat sports and took on a Russian bear of a boxer (at 1.98m and 113kg) in a bout. Wild media reports of his (some say) hundreds of secret “beimo” bare-knuckle challenge bouts in and around his hometown cast Wong as a man of steel who feared no one. His form : A furious attacker – which belied his calm exterior. Wong was famed for having no weakness – his hands and feet came at opponents in a flurry.