He's a knockout!

By John Kang
By John Kang |

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Rex Tso Sing-yu, 26, might never have become a professional boxer if not for his coach Jay Lau.

One day the owner of DEF boxing in Sheung Wan asked him an important question: what do you want to do with your life?

"I thought about it and I didn't have any other notable strengths besides boxing, so boxing was the only choice for me," said Tso.

This half-hearted career choice was a great one both for Tso, who is undefeated with 12 wins (8 KOs), and for Hong Kong - he is the city's best professional boxer.

However, Tso's victory in the ring only highlights the city's lack of good boxers.

Put simply, Tso is Hong Kong's best professional boxer, because there are no other professional boxers here to compete for the title.

Before Tso turned pro, he was a three-time amateur champion, but he wasn't training hard.

Once he stepped outside the comfort zone of Hong Kong to fight, he realised there was huge gap in the quality of local boxers and those in other countries.

"[Tso] had dominated in Hong Kong, but then he went to some international events and found there is a big difference in the competition," said Ken Ho, one of Tso's coaches.

The reason for this is simple - Hongkongers don't know about boxing. Tso says: "On TV, people see kung fu and other martial arts, but not boxing, and TV and movies are very influential."

Even if some teenagers know about boxing, there aren't many places you can learn and train.

Boxing fan David Chow Yu-chung, 17, was one of two students who prepared a speech for Tso before his first televised fight in Macau on February 22.

David decided to get into the ring after he saw Tso in a TV advert.

"He looked cool," smiles David.

Inspired by his role model, David is now hooked on the sport.

What he found so appealing about boxing was the amount of skill it took.

"It requires a lot of movement, unlike other combat sports," says David.

With the adrenaline pumping and dreaming of being a professional boxer like Tso, he hurried to join a gym ... and learned Muay Thai.

"I couldn't find a boxing gym near my home," David explains.

Though the Olympic sport is still relatively obscure in Hong Kong, Tso's success is inspiring more interest in the sport.

Having won his fight last month in Macau, the current WBC Asian Continental super flyweight and WBO Asia-Pacific junior bantamweight champion is "very proud" to be spearheading the boxing mission in Hong Kong.