Boxing champion Rex Tso reveals secret of success

January 09, 2016 08:05
Rex Tso Sing-yu in his casual clothes doesn't look like a fierce professional boxer unless one takes a close look at the faded scars on his face. Photo: HKEJ

Rex Tso Sing-yu, a.k.a. The Wonder Kid, has fought 18 professional boxing matches since 2011 and won them all.

He grabbed the WBA International Super Flyweight title in March last year and the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight belt in August.

Last year was definitely a bumper year for Tso. Yet despite his hectic schedule in and out of the ring, he was able to squeeze in worthwhile causes to serve as an inspiration to the youth.

He became an ambassador for the InspiringHK Sports Foundation and did 10,000 press-ups with schoolchildren and their teachers in December — a crowdfunding initiative to start a two-year, free-of-charge swimming classes for underprivileged Southeast Asian youngsters.

“I think sports are good for children and teenagers," said Tso. "Not until I started professional boxing did I find my life goals.”

Tso was born into a family of outstanding boxers. His father Tso Shu-yan is a seven-time amateur boxing champion and his elder brother Ralf Tso Sing-yeung is a four-time title holder.

But Tso had not thought of making a career out of boxing. 

“I didn’t take it seriously at first. I indeed disliked it because it requires tough training and seemingly endless vigorous workouts. I didn’t understand why I got to be beaten up.”

As a teenager, he thought of himself as "junk". He didn't do well academically and in other things as well, except playing video games.

Upon graduation, he and his friends tried out almost all sorts of manual labor including warehouse worker and logistics driver. But all those jobs were short-lived as Tso felt he was physically unfit in view of his "matchstick figure".

Tso’s life turned a new page when Jay Lau Chi-yuen -- a boxing student of his father who later became his agent -- opened a boxing gym and invited him over to serve as an assistant instructor.

That's when he picked up boxing again and began to enter professional matches.

He remembers so well his fear at the beginning of his professional boxing career. Lau told him that he could be sent home from his training in the Philippines at once if he didn't show any improvement.

That was the first time he felt under immense stress. He did nothing else but to keep pushing himself. He only felt reassured after the coach told him he was fit enough for a championship fight.

“I remind myself from time to time not to let loose, or else I would become the lazy lad I used to be,” said Tso.

To a certain extent, all boxers who enter professional matches are gifted, he said. One can only get a crack at the title if he has talent, but inside the ring, that proves to be of little use.

The winner beats his opponent by sheer perseverance, victory is the result of endless training and sacrifices, Tso said.

Having achieved 18 wins in 18 fights, Tso maintains an excellent mindset that he credits for his success.

“During a match, I focus more on doing my best. As soon as I engage in a fight, I naturally play it well. Winning or losing is just a result but not a process. There’s no need to place too much emphasis on it. The audience will respect you and cheer for you during a good game.”

Asked how much longer he would play as a professional boxer, the 28-year-old said he would continue as long as his body could.

“I cherish all the time I can have since I started so late. I will keep pushing myself to break one limit after another whenever possible.”

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 7.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Tso did 10,000 press-ups with schoolchildren and their teachers last month to raise funds for free swimming lessons for underprivileged Southeast Asian kids. Photo: HKEJ
Tso (left) beats Australian boxer Brad Hore to win the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title in August last year. Photo: HKEJ
During matches, Tso focuses more on doing his best rather than thinking about winning. Photo: HKEJ

Writer of the Hong Kong Economic Journal