China, one of the world's most populous countries, has produced some impressive boxers over the years. Boxing began to emerge in China in the early 20th century but it wasn't until the 1980s that the sport really started to gain traction, partly due to economic reforms and subsequent market liberalisation. Since then, a number of notable fighters have emerged, gaining both domestic and international recognition for their skill and determination. Here are some of the best boxers to have come out of China to date.
Zou Shiming is arguably China's most famous boxer to date, having won gold medals at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics in the light flyweight division. He also claimed three gold medals at the World Amateur Boxing Championships and was the first Chinese fighter to win a professional world title. Shiming's style is a combination of speed, power, and technical skill, and he is often credited with raising the profile of boxing in China.
Born in 1981 in Zunyi, a city in China's Guizhou Province, Shiming began boxing at the age of six. Despite his relatively small stature, he quickly developed a liking for the sport and went on to become one of the country's best amateur boxers. Shiming's achievements in the sport were recognised with numerous national and international accolades, and he was soon approached by promoters to turn professional.
In 2013, Shiming made his professional debut in Macao, where he defeated Eleazar Valenzuela in a four-round bout. He went on to win his first world title in 2016 when he defeated Prasitsak Phaprom of Thailand in the flyweight division. However, Shiming's boxing career was cut short in 2017 due to a severe eye injury which forced him to retire from the sport.
Zhang Zhilei is another prominent Chinese boxer, having represented his country at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He won a silver medal in the super heavyweight division at the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Azerbaijan and has since made a successful transition to the professional ranks.
Born in Henan Province in 1983, Zhang started boxing at the age of 17, having been inspired by the career of Mike Tyson. He quickly showed promise as a heavyweight, winning a number of national and international titles before signing with promoter Dino Duva in 2017. Zhang made his professional debut against the United States' Curtis Harper in 2014, winning the bout in the third round.
Since turning professional, Zhang has amassed an impressive record with more than 20 wins to his name. He is known for his powerful punching, excellent footwork, and ability to control the ring. In December 2020, he defeated Devin Vargas to claim the WBO Oriental heavyweight title, and he is now widely regarded as one of the best Chinese boxers in the sport.
Xu Can is a Chinese boxer known for his aggressive style and fast-paced punches. He has fought in the featherweight division throughout his career and is currently the holder of the WBA featherweight title. Born in Kunming in Yunnan Province in 1994, Xu started boxing at the age of seven and quickly developed a passion for the sport.
He began his professional career in 2014 and has since tallied up an impressive record of 18 wins and 2 losses. Xu's most notable victory came in 2019 when he defeated Japan's Shun Kubo in Japan to become the WBA featherweight champion. He successfully defended the title against the United States' Manny Robles III in 2019 and has continued to fight frequently since then.
Xu's style is characterised by his fast-paced punching, with commentators often noting his high work rate and ability to keep up a relentless attack on his opponents. He is widely regarded as one of the best young boxers in the sport, with many speculating that he has the potential to become one of China's greatest ever fighters.
Zhang Jiawei is a Chinese boxer who has gained considerable recognition in the sport for his speed and agility. Born in Nanjing in 1987, Zhang started boxing at the age of 12 and quickly became known for his impressive footwork and fast punching. He was subsequently selected to represent China at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he placed 9th overall in the light flyweight category.
Since then, Zhang has risen through the ranks of the professional circuit, earning a string of impressive victories against some of boxing's biggest names. He is known for his lightning-fast jabs, which often catch his opponents off guard, as well as his excellent timing.