CHENG DU, China (Reuters) - China is the next huge market for professional boxing, four of the most astute brains in fight promotion agreed on Friday.
The country’s potential as an awakening pugilistic giant dawned at the summer Olympics in August when two of their amateur fighters won gold.
That Eastern promise has electrified the flamboyant and loquacious Don King, who is promoting a professional boxing show in Cheng Du as the grand finale to the World Boxing Council’s annual convention.
“China has 1.7 billion people, so content is king,” quipped the American promoter.
”China has given me the greatest reception of any country I’ve ever been to in my life. It won olympic medals in categories it had never done before.
“This shows dedication and commitment, so hopefully I can be as good as they are. Anything can happen, now China is opening its doors to the world.”
King’s optimism was echoed by fellow promoter Dino Duva.
“Professional boxing can become huge in China. If it keeps progressing following the Olympic success there can be professional boxing superstars,” he told Reuters.
“Pay per view isn’t at a mature stage yet in China. They’re still trying to work it out and get it going, but the possibilities are unbelievable.”
China’s first professional boxing promoter Lin Gang is eager to grow the sport in his homeland.
A former boxer who represented his country at the Sydney Olympics and then fought professionally, based in Australia, he is working towards realising his sporting dream.
“China has very good potential for professional boxing. It’s very new here -- only four years old, but I’ve put on 45 promotions,” he told Reuters.
“The Government is giving me support through the Sports Council and the shows are in the name of the people, who are happy.”
British promoter Frank Maloney was impressed by what he saw in China.
“I’ve never been to China before, but if this is communism, it seems to be working well,” he quipped.
”It’s really up to the Chinese Government. If they want it to work, they’ll insist it works. But do they want professional boxing? It may be against what they call true communism, like in Cuba.
“If they do want professional boxing to work, they’ve certainly got a massive market, and all of us promoters will be trying to gatecrash in, because it’ll be a market that we’ll all be looking at.”
Editing by Ossian Shine