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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
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.