Title

The Monster Fight Club

  • Shi Jian is the founder of the Monster Fight Club in Chengdu. He is from the city of Lanzhou, and owned an online jewelry-shop before opening the fight club in 2016.
    Shi Jian is the founder of the Monster Fight Club in Chengdu. He is from the city of Lanzhou, and owned an online jewelry-shop before opening the fight club in 2016.
  • Xia Tian, 19, works in the kitchen of a Korean restaurant near Sichuan University in Chengdu.
    Xia Tian, 19, works in the kitchen of a Korean restaurant near Sichuan University in Chengdu.
  • Xia trains by skipping rope in his dormitory.
    Xia trains by skipping rope in his dormitory.
  • Bo Junhui, 18, shops with his sister on Chunxi Road in Chengdu.
    Bo Junhui, 18, shops with his sister on Chunxi Road in Chengdu.
  • Bo gets ready before his fight with Xia. Their fight was the first of four that night.
    Bo gets ready before his fight with Xia. Their fight was the first of four that night.
  • The MC (right) introduces Bo (second-left) and Xia (back, middle), as they prepare for the fight.
    The MC (right) introduces Bo (second-left) and Xia (back, middle), as they prepare for the fight.
  • Bo (left) and Xia, during the fight.
    Bo (left) and Xia, during the fight.
  • Xia (right), after winning the fight against Bo (center).
    Xia (right), after winning the fight against Bo (center).
  • Xia rests after the fight.
    Xia rests after the fight.

“I was supposed to be fighting some IT guy,” Bo Junhui groaned afterward. Instead, the 18-year-old student was up against someone a year older, ten pounds heavier, and a lot hungrier. Xia Tian has never worked behind a desk; he’d spent the last few years as a restless migrant, living on his wits. He didn’t know about computing, only that he wanted to put Bo “on the mat as fast” as possible. And Bo, better educated and properly trained, barely knew what hit him.

First it was a right hook, then a flurry of blows to the torso. Bo’s defensive kick went wide, leaving him open to more punishment. “I never expected such an onslaught,” he admitted. To Bo, who had trained for over a year, his opponent was a rookie. Xia had noble ambitions; Bo had league wins to his name. Yet Bo was now the one with the bloody mouth, hesitating on his back foot—Xia was still relentless. And there were still two and a half rounds to go.

Any amateur can try their luck at the Monster Fight Club in Chengdu, the capital of southwest Sichuan province. Most who come are squarely middle class: accountants, for example, or their drivers or their managers. Young men like Bo, looking to blow off steam on the weekend like the characters in the movie Fight Club, by pummeling and being pummeled, rather than quaffing baijiu or howling karaoke hits, the more common after-hours pursuits of Chengdu’s 15 million residents. . .

Continue reading. . .

Robert Foyle Hunwick

Features

04.03.17

Boxing For Survival in a Chinese Fight Club

Robert Foyle Hunwick
“I was supposed to be fighting some IT guy,” Bo Junhui groaned afterward. Instead, the 18-year-old student was up against someone a year older, ten pounds heavier, and a lot hungrier. Xia Tian has never worked behind a desk; he’d spent the last few...