A new cultural wave is swelling in china, one that fosters sport and athletics. Chinese olympians are well-known for taking gold in gymnastics and badminton and the rise of individuals such as Li Na and Yao Ming proves the nation can produce determined, top-class athletes but it seems the sports world in China is expanding beyond the rare golden athlete and into the interest of everyday consumers.

ON THE WAVE TO MASS INTEREST:

The recent Masters tournament success of 14-year-old golf prodigy Guan Tianlang has schools and clubs both in the United States and China scrambling to find young talent among well-heeled Chinese families.
“Our academy has seen more Chinese golf players coming for training at younger ages, and most of them are financially supported by their families to seek success in this niche sport,” said Huey Yu, president of Oak Valley Golf Academy in Beaumont, California.
Yu predicts Guan’s stellar play “will have a butterfly effect” in China. “I am confident that dozens of young Chinese golfers will come out this summer,” he said.
 

Steve Worthy, CEO of the Zurich Classic Golf tournament, spoke about Guan’s influence: “Guan represents the aspirations of millions of young golfers and golf fans of all ages worldwide”– Literally: MILLIONS and a large portion are in China.

Golf is taking root in Chinese society, seen in everything from parents splurging on lessons from the best for their children, to banks offering elite golf experiences as credit card perks (Citic bank).

“The next 10 to 20 years will still be a high-growth period” for Chinese golf, Ziding Han, CEO of Guangdong Golf Channel Co, was quoted as saying by Golf Digest.
Han told the magazine that the growth rate of players in China is 25 to 30 percent a year. Despite government protestations about the game, he said, “there are billions of dollars in private money invested in golf right now. No other sport in China has that level of private investment.”

Read more at: China Daily or CNN.

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At 14 years old, Guan Tianlang is the youngest person to play the Masters—arguably the most prestigious sporting event in the world—by more than two years.

ON THE CREST:

A less mainstream sport with real potential in China is boxing.

“There’s a real story there,” Arum said excitedly, his hands moving as he talked. “Look into the future, and the truth is, the U.S. market is going to be secondary. The opportunities in the Asian market far exceed what you can do here.”  Bob Arum, who for more than six decades, has sold his sport through fights all over the world.
Arum insisted that he had seen the future of boxing, and that it was in China and Singapore and would perhaps spread elsewhere in Asia, like the Philippines.
An April 6 bout in China, the country that once banned boxing because it was too Western and too violent, featured a decorated Olympian from China in his professional debut. For all its success — the casino said it sold out the fight and estimated that 200 million to 300 million people watched on television — that event was in part a test run. Arum said Pacquiao would “definitely” stage his next bout in December, in either Singapore or Macau. Arum hoped to sell the fight for $3 to $5 on pay-per-view in China and at the usual rate (about $60) in the United States.
“This is an intriguing part of boxing’s globalization,” Merchant said. “What’s intriguing is the newness and the numbers. The number of zeros on the estimates are staggering, unprecedented and tantalizing to a promoter. Where it goes, nobody knows.”

Read more at the New York Times.

Zou Shiming won a unanimous decision in his professional boxing debut. Zou's high-profile flyweight debut was the centerpiece of a show at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macau casino. The two-time Olympic gold medalist didn't disappoint the crowd, which waved flags and cheered for the most successful amateur boxer in Chinese history.

Zou Shiming won a unanimous decision in his professional boxing debut. Zou’s high-profile flyweight debut was the centerpiece of a show at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macau casino. The two-time Olympic gold medalist didn’t disappoint the crowd, which waved flags and cheered for the most successful amateur boxer in Chinese history.

Like most everyone in sports, including the power brokers for professional leagues in the United States, boxing wants into China– with its population of more than 1.3 billion and heightened interest in Western culture, sports included. Kobe Bryant ran a basketball clinic in Macau. Rory McIlroy stopped there during a seven-day, seven-city golf tour. The Venetian sponsored a golf tournament on the Asian Tour. It is the next wave to hit Asia.

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