July 9, 2012
“The need to persevere is the need to keep your head above water in China's capitalist dog-eat-dog world.”
“毅力 is the Chinese word for perseverance. Pronounced YI LI.”
“The need to persevere is the need to keep your head above water in China's capitalist dog-eat-dog world.”
“毅力 is the Chinese word for perseverance. Pronounced YI LI.”

Documentary filmmaker Yung Chang’s latest feature, China Heavyweight, is about competitive boxing in mainland China. The film follows master coach and former professional boxer, Qi Moxiang, as he recruits poor rural teenagers and trains them with aspirations towards becoming Chinese Mike Tysons. In this exclusive editorial, Coach Qi Moxiang, flown from China to North America for the festival circuit, trains at Sully’s Boxing Gym in Toronto, Canada’s oldest boxing and wrestling club, and former stomping grounds of legends like Lennox Lewis and Muhammad Ali. The Chinese title for the film translates roughly as, “To Be Tried and Tested a Thousand Times Over.” After the film’s opening at the IFC Center in New York, I had but one question for director Yung Chang: What does the word perseverance, repeated throughout the film in translation, mean in Chinese? His answer: “I think the idea of perseverance is very important in China, especially in Chinese rags to riches stories or stories about overcoming severe obstacle… That’s the history of China.” Styling by Andrea Lee, art direction by Diego Armand.

Photography by May Truong

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