HONG KONG: First Hong Kong WWE wrestler on how to stay in shape, and his push to promote the sport in Asia (SCMP.com)

Posted on 7/12/118 by Mike Informer

In 2009, when Ho Ho Lun founded Hong Kong Pro-Wrestling
Federation to fire up the local wrestling scene, he
organised an event and only 50 spectators turned up.

Nobody supported us, he says of the event at a warehouse
in Sha Tin in the New Territories. People said we couldnt
make it big since we were just hobbyists.

Fast forward to today, and many of those naysayers are now
fans, the groups home-grown wrestlers having trained hard
locally and overseas to improve, and built up their
repertoire in wrestling circuits worldwide.

Jason Lees NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion title in
Japan a few years ago helped, as did Lun joining the
professional World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) circuit in
2016.

While touring in Portugal, an American friend asked Lun
whose real name is Wong Yuk-lun if he was keen to join
WWE, and the Tai Po native seized the opportunity. By mid-
2016, he had joined the 150-wrestler roster for WWEs NXT
show in the US, where he encountered wrestling legends such
as 90s star The Undertaker, and wrestler-turned-actor John
Cena.

But tough days lay ahead. Long hours on the road travelling,
and daily stints in the gym to get in shape for three to
four fights a week took their toll. The fierce competition
to get into the ring at WWE, 150 wrestlers wait backstage
as standbys added even more pressure.

I didnt know whether I was going to have a match until
three hours before the show. I thought wrestlers met
opponents well in advance to suss out fight techniques in
the ring, he recalls. In the end, his time in the ring was
limited.

These factors, and a matter close to home his mother had
become gravely ill led to him leaving the WWE after 14
months to support her.

Luns mother succumbed to breast cancer in January. It
would have been a tough decision if my mum was healthy, but
my mum was [ill], that gave me a big motivation to come
back, says the 32-year-old, who harbours no regrets.

Now, as well as performing in the ring, Lun organises
matches as he works to build up the sport in Asia to be as
big as it is in the US. And hes having some success: his
King of Wrestling event on July 31 in Chai Wan, a
residential and light industrial district at the far eastern
end of Hong Kong Island, sold out within hours of the
tickets going on sale.

I was shocked, as the poster hadnt been out, [and] I
hadnt even announced who will be coming in for the fights,
he says.

Are you a daily gym hound?

Not every day, but four to five times a week. In Hong Kong,
a problem is that we dont have a ring for training
facilities. Also, most wrestlers in Hong Kong are not full-
time wrestlers but have a day job, so they train on
Saturdays at a judo centre.

What does training entail?

Its conditioning, a big part of wrestling training. We
follow the Japanese style of training that includes squats
and body weight exercises. You wont believe that our warm-
up involves 500 squats.

Many newcomers to Hong Kong wrestling thought training is an
opportunity to throw punches and stuff. Then they realise a
minimum of 300 squats are involved.

Why are squats so important?

The leg and core are really important [for wrestling] The
squat training is not only important for the body but the
mind. When you are at a wrestling match, you get tired but
you still have to go on this type of mind training helps
keep you going.

Push-ups are also part of training. Training sessions are
around two-and-a-half hours and involve conditioning and
wrestling techniques.

What about your diet?

I eat as much as possible. My body is used to eating a lot
and I am still not big, but pro wrestlers are supposed to be
big. When I was a young boy and started wrestling training
in Japan, the senior guys kept insisting I eat, eat, eat
they fed me until I felt like vomiting. Even if you have
some fat, it looks good in the ring. It also protects you
from punches and body slams. I dont count calories, but I
make sure I eat at least five full meals a day. In between,
I take protein shakes.

Pro wrestling is tough on the body and can result in
tragedy. How do you avoid injuries on the job?

Training is important besides squats and push-ups, there
is specific training for the neck. If I break my arm or leg,
it can be put back together again. Break your neck, that is
the end of your life.

Neck-specific training includes a bridge exercise which you
do without your hands while moving your legs in a circle.
Others include training with a partner who pushes against
your neck while you resist.

All sports have their risks. In Japan in 2009, Mitsuharu
Misawa died in the ring because he did a back suplex, a move
in which someone slammed him and he was supposed to land on
his back, but landed wrong on his neck and died. Misawa was
a true legend.

Misawa was 40 years old at the time and had been wrestling
for 20 years. He wrestled every day and was producer for the
wrestling company Noah, so all the stress played a part too
lack of training, and lack of sleep from too much
travelling.

How do you cope with this gruelling regime and still
maintain longevity in the sport?

The longer youre at it, the harder it is on the body, and
you can even die. Older wrestlers use charisma to connect
with fans so that they dont have to do lots of crazy moves
in the ring merely raising your hand makes the fans go
crazy.

How is your Macau project to transform a strip club into a
wrestling venue going?

Once I came back from America, I spoke with a Macau owner of
an entertainment company that works with Golden Dragon Hotel
who had this idea of running wrestling in Macau for years
we put on shows in September, and more, but the reaction
wasnt as good.

That owner had a strip club he had this idea that men
would go to the strip club while the women and kids watch
the wrestling. That didnt work. Obviously.

WWE cult hero Ho Ho Lun reflects on his journey in NXT after
returning to Hong Kong

Why even put the strip joint in the equation? Why not
encourage families to go to matches together like they do in
the US?

The travel agencies didnt push it much, as there are many
entertainment options in Macau. Our production wasnt that
big, either that is why were in talks with City of Dreams
and other bigger casinos [to do another tour].



































































































































































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