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Movie gets theatergoers all gloved up

By He Qi | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-01 07:54

Wang instructs Zhu Tianfu, who plays a boxing coach in the film. CHINA DAILY

Recent box-office hit YOLO fuels a national surge in popularity for the sport of boxing, He Qi reports in Shanghai.

If Zou Shiming's winning of multiple world and Olympic boxing championships is seen as a milestone in Chinese boxing history, the recent film Re La Gun Tang — which also goes by the English title YOLO — about an overweight woman rebuilding her confidence through boxing, can be seen as another, and is set to boost the development of the sport in China, according to Wang Dexin, a boxing professor at the Shanghai University of Sport.

A boxing instructor for over 30 years and Zou's former mentor, Wang served as the technical director of boxing for YOLO, an acronym for "you only live once", which dominated China's box office during the Spring Festival holiday, and which has so far grossed more than 3 billion yuan ($420 million).

During filming, lead actress, Jia Ling, who also directed the movie, lost 50 kilograms playing the protagonist Du Leying.

The film's popularity and Jia's success have ignited a fervor for the sport of boxing among moviegoers that has transcended theaters.

Data from e-commerce platform Meituan shows that online searches related to "boxing" increased 388.4 percent year-on-year in the week following the movie's premiere on Feb 10, and the consumer review platform Dianping saw a 337.53 percent increase in related comments.

Keyword searches, such as "adult boxing", "trial boxing class", and "female boxing" have seen a tenfold year-on-year increase. Shanghai ranks highest in search volume, the data shows.

Wang is also an instructor for referees accredited by the International Boxing Federation and a member of the Asian Boxing Confederation's Referees and Judges Commission. Committed to promoting boxing throughout his career, he is gratified by the positive response to the film.

"The influence of YOLO has achieved levels of promotion and popularization of boxing rarely seen in the past few decades, and I think it will be difficult to surpass in the short term," says Wang.

While boxing dates back to ancient times and is considered one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, China is a latecomer to the development of modern boxing, Wang says.

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