If asked, nobody in China wouldn't know either Liu Xiang or Yao Ming. Well, in China's boxing society, Zou Shiming, a 27-year-old Guizhou guy, is also a household name.
As a leading figure of the Chinese boxing regiment to fight for gold during the Beijing Olympics, Zou has many auras to his belt: runner-up in the 2003 World Boxing Championship, bronze-medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics, winner in the 2005 World Boxing Championship and the 2007 Chicago World Boxing Championship.
In the 48kg category, he looks like a king with few opponents in the world. Yet he still needs an Olympic gold to justify, the first Olympic boxing gold medal that China has been vying for in decades.
When he was little, no one, including himself and his parents, would dream that he could go so far in boxing. Little Zou was actually little in size when he was a kid, short, thin, timid, girly-looking. His parents even raised him like a girl for quite a few years. And he was often bullied by his buddies, even girls, for being weak and shy.
"See the scar on my face? Scratched by a girl when I was little!" said Zou. "I was always bullied by my pals when I was a kid, by boys, by girls. And I was so thin and small, I couldn't fight them."
It was from the bullies and the strict control from his parents that pushed Zou to start learning Chinese martial art Wushu when he was 13, because he needed something to abreact and to become stronger. He also dreamed of being a kungfu hero someday, to save the good and punish the bad.
However, his attention was quickly drawn to a more "violent" and straight-forward sport: boxing. He found it more intense and challenging. "When you stand on the stage, you'll immediately feel like a warrior. That feeling is awesome!" he said.