Updated: 2013-10-06 07:05
By Liu Lu (China Daily)
Through his Shanghai gym and boxing events, Shane Benis hopes to popularize the sport he loves across China. He shares his ups and downs with Liu Lu.
When Shane Benis came to Shanghai eight years ago, he struggled to find a place to continue training in his chosen sport - boxing.
Three years on, the Englishman had not only found a way to keep training, but had begun taking the sport to the Shanghai public with a charity white-collar boxing event called Brawl On The Bund, which has since become a popular event on the city's social calendar.
Recognized today as one of the most active boxing promoters in China, Benis hopes to see the sport grow in popularity across the country and to see more Chinese boxers in international competitions.
The charity white-collar boxing event Brawl On The Bund, held twice yearly, has become a popular activity on the social calendar of Shanghai. Gao Erqiang / China Daily
Shane Benis believes boxing has the potential to become a popular sport in China. Photos provided to China Daily
Shane Benis is glad that Brawl on The Bund remains the boxing enthusiasts' focus in Shanghai.
"Our goal is to share the sport of boxing in China and make it accessible for all," he says.
While it ranks far behind sports like football and table tennis in terms of popularity in China, boxing has begun to gain a following in recent years, according to Benis.
In 2011, Benis opened Golden Gloves boxing gym near People's Square in Shanghai to give the city's boxers a place to train. Today, this is where most of the Brawl On The Bund contenders train for about 12 weeks prior to the competition.
"Boxing is a fantastic stress release. Most of our members are business men and women looking to let off some steam and get fit," Benis says.
White-collar boxing refers to amateur boxing events in which participants are usually people from white-collar jobs and most contenders have no boxing experience prior to the competition.
"Everyone that takes part in white-collar boxing is an amateur with little or no boxing experience, which means anyone can take part," says Benis.
"It is a popular sport for business people to keep fit in the West. I want to introduce this sport to more Chinese and expats in China so as to provide them something new to experience after work."
The trainers at Golden Gloves are professional and amateur boxers from around the world, including Chris Xiong, who trained with the Chinese national team and Alfonso Cuadra, a former Golden Gloves National Champion of Mexico.
"We have people from all walks of life, such as bankers, executives and teachers, who train at our place. It is also a mix of different nationalities - Chinese, French, American, British, anyone you can think of."
To cater to a growing number of women interested in the sport, the gym also offers women-only classes.