Frank Bruno meets WT
"Eastern Express" (Hong Kong, September 1994) by Matthew Loh
 
 
 
Gloves off as Bruno bows to a bigger man
 
As one would expect from a man who eagerly jumped into the ring to stand toe-to-toe with "Iron Mike Tyson" at the height of his powers, Frank Bruno rarely backs down from a fight. But, despite his imposing muscle-packed 102-kilogram frame, the former European heavyweight champion admitted he would never dare to "have a go" at mild-mannered martial artist sifu (master) Cheng Chuen Fun. 'He may be twice my age and half my size, but he`d have me in a second. Hi yaaa!' Bruno said.
 
Only 45 minutes earlier and trembling with anticipation Bruno was making his way through the Yau Ma Tei streets en route to fulfilling an ambition he has since he was a "hyperactive eight-year-old with a passion for kung fu movies".
 
Bruno, in town to promote his contest with Ray Mercer as part of the "High Noon in Hong Kong" bill, said: 'Like so many people who grew up astonished by the martial arts movies, and especially Bruce Lee, I dreamed of one day seeing where he trained and meeting who he trained with.' And in a tiny gymnasium on the first floor of an anonymous Nathan Road building, Bruno's childhood dream came true.
 
On entering the "Leung Ting" WingTsun gymnasium, Bruno immediately changed from the joking boxer, with a personality as big as his biceps, to a humble student desperate not to offend the martial artists who welcomed him him with open arms and beaming smiles. Bruno's visit was prompted by the fact that Lee had once trained alongside the gymnasium founder sifu Leung Ting and Cheng as a disciple of WingTsun grandmaster Yip Man.
 
On his way to movie stardom, Lee adapted the WingTsun style into his own Jeet-Kune-Do style. And Leung and Cheng continue to pass on Yip Man's legacy to students, who fill the cramped Yau Ma Tei gym on a daily basis.

Clearly overwhelmed with awe at being feted by a contemporary of Lee's, Bruno, his head bowed in respect, refuses to put on boxing gloves for a mock sparring session with Cheng. 'I don`t want to offend the master by bringing my game into his gymnasium,' he explained. However, after quizzing Cheng on way to strengthen his already powerful arms, he gladly accepted an offer for a short lesson in the basic form of WingTsun - the Siu-Nim-Tao (Little Idea).

'I would be really honoured if you showed me any of your exercises or moves.' Bruno whispered respectfully to the smaller man. So, surrounded by curious students and the images of Yip which adorned the walls, Bruno gladly put himself in the hands of Cheng. And, dispite towering over Cheng, it was obvious Bruno regarded the wiry martial arts master as by far the bigger man. Bruno then copied Cheng's fluid movements as he was taken through the graceful motion of the Siu-Nim-Tao.

Following the short lesson Bruno earnestly apologised for disturbing the class and bowed repeatedly as he thanked the master and his students for their time. Then as he turned and left the gymnasium, the man who will have thousands of people cheering him on at the Hong Kong Stadium on October 23 could beheard murmuring. 'Wicked man, totally wicked'. 'For me that was a dream come true to meet and be instructed by someone with the wisdom and martial arts expertise of sifu Cheng.'

Bruno explained as he stepped out of the gymnasium. While it was also fantastic to see and experience the conditions which shaped Bruce Lee. 'I had an absolutely wicked time.'

[So, Frank Bruno has proven himself to be a perfect gentleman and serious martial artist.
With his modest attitude and subtle wit, he got a lot of new friends (not only) by the Chinese martial-art people.
Respect, Mr. Bruno, you have acted like a real champ!

SFS]