“A sound mind is in a sound body.” These words were first spoken by former PKU president Mr. Cai Yuanpei as he addressed students of PKU. He clearly connects sport to a person’s physique, spirit, and even the realm of life. His view suggests that any intentional or unintentional neglect of physical activity, like opposing sport for the singular pursuit of academics, is counterproductive and damaging. The comprehensive development of a person begins with training their body and mind. We, the next generation of PKU graduates, regard sports as an instrument of self-development, to improve our student life through a sharp body and mind. The number of sports associations in PKU, 51, is a strong testament to the importance of the physical activity to students.
Boxing has been gaining popularity exponentially in recent years, not due to the idea of the vigorous competition, but as an effective method of exercise with astonishing results. Surprisingly, until last year we didn’t have a boxing association. But now, in the Shenzhen PKU campus, students took it upon themselves to become trendsetters and set up the Peking University Boxing Association (PBA), a new association that would spread the good word and get students the good exercise boxing provides.
Founded in the spring of 2019, the PBA has undergone rapid growth in the past half a year. The association started off with 36 members, one coach, and two trainings per week. Today, their membership has increased to an astonishing 110 students, and they now have four training sessions per week and six coaches.
Interview with Li Yang （President of PBA)
The more I learned about PBA, the more I was intrigued and eager to find out more about this inspirational project. The best way to do so is to follow the crumbs, so I met with one of the founders and the current president Li Yang (Marco). He is the embodiment of the PKU school motto with his energetic spirit, talkative personality, and sporty physique.
When we start talking and I ask about the early beginnings of the projects, he pauses for a second and then says, “I am a person who likes to tell stories. Let me tell you the story of the establishment of the PBA.” And so he does:
“When I arrived in Shenzhen I felt extremely excited, and this feeling is still unfolding! I have to say that my life here has been a never-ending ride, and my thoughts are ushered in sublimation over the past year.
This year, I started doing sports regularly, including running, fitness, and my favorite – boxing. Every sport brought me more energy, but boxing gave me a different set of feelings. They are the courage of overcoming fear and self-confidence after being continuously challenged, which was also a big variable in my studies and life this year. The appeal of boxing wasn’t the only factor attracting me to keep coming back to it, but also the idea to start promoting the sport for others so that more students can be charmed by the sport.
That’s how we started the Peking University Boxing Association. In the following six months, we invested a lot of energy to make the association work properly in terms of structure, equipment, activities, and publicity.”
That energy really shows. They were able to grow their membership through WeChat announcements, posters around campus, and speaking during international student orientation. They sought out new coaches at the beginning of the semester, even finding talented and experienced PKU students, and have planned well-attended activities like guest speakers.
The secret behind the success is rather simple: passion and care. As Li Yang explains:
“Imagine you have a child; you will be delighted by its progress and frustrated by its setbacks. In any case, you still hope that it can continue to thrive, be self-sufficient, and to grow up into something extraordinary. I had many discussions with other student leaders whether it is worth it to dedicate your time to such a project. My answer is a definite yes.
Of course, I believe that my life journey has changed thanks to what I have learned from this project and the encouragement I have received from my peers that continues to motivate me.
Our work is more about a feeling, a sense of responsibility. I started the boxing association with a strong passion. I just want to realize my little dream here: to help others and to promote the traditional spirit of China. ”
The passion and enthusiasm in his words left me deeply impressed. Indeed, setting up a new association requires a lot of courage and effort. But, Li Yang also shows that if you want something you shouldn’t give up. To the contrary, persist until it’s not only a dream but the new reality. That is the true PKU spirit passed onto us and which we must continue to keep alive.
Written by Mei Siyu