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China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

Fan first chanced upon white col­lar box­ing when she got to know Valentin Le­grand, a French­man in Shang­hai whom she was con­sid­er­ing rent­ing an apart­ment from. Hav­ing added him on the mes­sag­ing app WeChat, Fan ad­mit­ted to “stalk­ing” Le­grand to find out if he might be a trust­wor­thy land­lord. This was when she dis­cov­ered his fre­quent posts on how he was train­ing for his white col­lar box­ing event.

Fan even­tu­ally rented the apart­ment, be­friended Le­grand, and got to learn more about box­ing. But what ul­ti­mately con­vinced her to sign up for fight night was wit­ness­ing the pos­i­tive changes box­ing brought to Le­grand’s life.

“When I first met Valentin we would go out a lot so I guess my im­pres­sion of him was that he wasn’t quite the self-dis­ci­plined per­son,” said Fan with a laugh.

“But af­ter he had started train­ing, he wouldn’t even come out for just one glass of wine. He now has a very rig­or­ous train­ing regime and a strict diet. Just see­ing how fo­cused he was really mo­ti­vated me.”

Cheer­ful and ea­ger to pose for pho­tos with the other box­ers de­spite her loss, Fan looked to have emerged from the fight un­scathed. When asked if she would con­sider tak­ing part again next year, the an­swer from her was a re­sound­ing yes.

“I thought that it would be dis­ap­point­ing to lose, but it’s not. Be­sides, I did man­age to give Esme a bloody nose,” quipped Fan.

“I’ll definitely be back. It’s a really fun and good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Ad­mit­tedly, Fan al­most never made it to the ring that night be­cause the com­mit­ment she had to give — she was train­ing six days a week — at times seemed too much to bear. Given the na­ture of her job, she some­times had to head back to the of­fice af­ter train­ing ses­sions at 10pm to con­tinue work­ing on projects.

It is seem­ingly this strug­gle to man­age a ca­reer, so­cial life and train­ing that has been so strangely sat­is­fy­ing to a grow­ing num­ber of white col­lar box­ers, in­clud­ing Alan Wong, who fought later that night.

“It’s all about set­ting up a clear goal and then break­ing it down into smaller ob­jec­tives. On the way to achiev­ing

PHO­TOS BY GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Just like Hilary Fan, many white col­lar box­ers in Shang­hai see the sport as a good way to test their bound­aries in men­tal and phys­i­cal en­durance.

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