HONG KONG (AFP) – Double Olympic champion flyweight Zou Shiming has vowed to put China on the global boxing map by winning his first professional world title in Macau next month.
The 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medallist was a three-time world champion in a glorious amateur career, but he believes that if he beats the undefeated Thai Amnat Ruenroeng in March he would finally bring Chinese boxing to the world’s attention.
“I swore to fulfil my dreams to become a professional fighter, to achieve world titles and to bring China into the worldwide boxing family,” Zou told AFP in an interview in Los Angeles.
Zou is currently training for the fight at legendary trainer Freddie Roach’s Wildcard gym in the US city.
The boxer denied that fanatical support in his homeland — where up to 300 million are expected to watch the clash for the International Boxing Federation belt – was heaping pressure on him.
“The pressure doesn’t come from my home country, but comes from myself and that made me enter the pro ring in my thirties,” said the 33-year-old who is from Guizhou province in southwestern China.
Veteran promoter Bob Arum has dubbed Zou “the poster boy” for the rise of Chinese professional boxing, where it was banned under Mao Zedong for being too Western and too violent.
“Zou is the engine behind all of this activity in China,” said Arum. “He’s the poster boy.”
Zou is quickly assuming superstar status following a cameo appearance in the latest “Transformers” movie and after starring in advertisements for Beats headphones with NBA icon LeBron James and tennis legend Serena Williams.