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Zhang Xiaoxia: Wuxi's fresh boxing talent

Updated : 2016-12-12
(chinadaily.com.cn)

In between the first and second bouts of Zhang Xiaoxia's debut fight, her coach poured a bottle of water on her face and told her to wake up.

Zhang smiles when retelling the story now, nearly 18 months on from the episode, but the ringside situation took place during the final fight of the prestigious Jiangsu Sport Meeting and was anything but lighthearted. Simply put, her Wuxi teammates needed her to pull out a win.

After a change of tactics, the then 17-year-old gradually took control of the fight using her superior technical skills and she duly delivered a gold medal for team Wuxi.

Zhang and Wuxi's success that day is indicative of the achievements reached by the municipal boxing team that first formed in 2003. Indeed, the number of reputable boxers that have come through the program is impressive.

However, now in the depths of wintery December, that momentous fight must seem a distant memory for Zhang, who is currently intensely focused on a grueling training schedule.

"My daily task is to study and train hard," Zhang says simply.

Zhang and her teammates wake at 6am every morning for fitness training and can be found honing their boxing skills in the gym late at night. Now in her fourth year on the team, Zhang's role has changed from rookie to senior and others now look to her for leadership and training advice.

Wu Xinwu, her coach, looks back on Zhang's career with pride and recalls how he gradually came to believe in her abilities.

"When she first stood up in the ring and trained I remember tears coming down her face. She continued to grit her teeth but I was worried about her and it was only over time that I saw her strong mental strength. She is awesome."

When Zhang reflects on these early boxing days she remembers the struggles and losing a lot of weight in a short period of time.

"I now understand my coach, if you sweat more in training then the fights become less painful," she says with a pleasure at having persisted.

Life might not always be easy for the boxers at Wuxi Sports School, but Zhang and her teammates know that if they continue to train hard through the winter months they might achieve their dreams.

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