Eddie Ng was once victimized for his appearance, his life made a misery by bullies in the town he grew up in. Now the 27-year-old Hong Konger is on the verge of a title shot with Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization after establishing himself as a highly successful fighter.
Ng’s family moved to Chester-le-Street in the north of England when Ng was very young and he spent his schooldays in the town, where he learned some harsh lessons about life which definitely were not on the curriculum.
“There were hardly any other Asian people living there at the time, so I stood out, and almost every day I was reminded that I was different. Mainly it was just insults, but at times I was also physically attacked and I didn’t know what I had done to deserve it,” Ng said.
Ng is now one of the most recognizable fighters in Asia and has won three fights out of three in the ONE Fighting Championship, taking his overall record to 6-1. He is one of the promoter’s most prominent lightweights, but, in an ironic twist of fate, he would never have chosen it as a career had it not been for the victimization he endured earlier in his life.
“Bruce Lee was my hero because he came from Hong Kong just like me and had the same skin color as me, but everyone respected him. I started to think that maybe the reason was that he was a martial artist and that’s when I decided to start learning martial arts, because I thought if I did, the bullying would stop,” he said.
Ng initially followed in the footsteps of Lee by learning Wing Chun, but found the Chinese martial art to be unrealistic, so he started buying videos of fights and was introduced to MMA, which was relatively new at the time.
He was immediately hooked and started teaching himself grappling, a key component of MMA, using the videos and then practicing the techniques on his brothers. Ng never stopped learning and, at the age of 21, he fought professionally for the first time, beating a much more experienced opponent in the opening round.
In a curious twist of fate his success as a mixed martial artist took him back to Asia when he was offered a spot on the fight team at Evolve MMA in Singapore in 2011. Having started out self-taught and relying on videos, Ng said the move helped him take his fighting career to the next level.
“All the trainers at Evolve MMA are world champions in Muay Thai or BJJ [Brazilian jiujitsu] or boxing. I believe it is the best place in the world to train at, and I still can’t believe it when I look across the gym and see legends like Shinya Aoki or Yodsanan Sityodtong training alongside me,” he said.
Ng is unbeaten since moving to Singapore, finishing off all of his opponents and running up a 3-0 record. His most recent win came against French fighter Arnaud Lepont earlier this month and, were it not for the fact that his teammate Aoki currently holds the lightweight belt, he would probably be in line for a title shot.
He said he is not in a hurry to become a ONE FC champion, but there is another burning ambition he hopes to fulfill. The promoter has already held events in Jakarta, Manila and Kuala Lumpur, as well as Singapore, and Ng is hoping that sooner or later he will get to headline a card in Hong Kong.
“ONE FC owner Victor Cui told me that he definitely planned to put on a show there and hopefully when he does I will be on it. Fighting in Hong Kong would be a dream come true for me because it would really be going back to my roots and all my family there could come to watch,” he said.
Had it not been for the famous kung fu movies that came out of Hong Kong, perhaps Ng would have followed his parents into the medical profession. It is doubtful he would ever have become a fighter.
Instead, he has become a poster boy for Asian MMA, capable of raw brutality once the battle begins, but polite, well-spoken and eminently photogenic away from the cage.
Ng’s life story is already the stuff of movies and winning a fight in the main event of a show in Hong Kong would be the perfect fairy-tale ending.