North Korean boxing ace Bang Chol-mi’s first match at the Hangzhou Asian Games showed the high expectations the country has for him.
At 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 24, the Hangzhou Gymnasium hosted his round of 16 bout with Lim Ae-ji (Hwasun County) in the women’s boxing 54-kilogram category.
More than 10 North Korean athletes took their seats in the audience before the match and prepared to cheer, and Sports Minister Kim Il Guk, who led a delegation from the North Korean Olympic Committee to China, was also in the audience.
At the stadium, North Korean reporters scrambled to capture Bang on camera.
The interest was attributed to North Korea’s “gold medal” hopes for Bang, as well as the fact that it was a “North Korea vs. South Korea” matchup.
North Korean athletes in the stands, who had remained seated and expressionless as Lim was introduced, stood up, clapped, and cheered loudly as Bang entered the arena.
During the third round, the North Korean players stood up and cheered in time to the beat, chanting, “Good job, good job,” whenever Bang landed a punch, and were shocked when he was hit by Lim’s punch.
The match ended with Bang dominating Lim and winning a unanimous decision.
After the match, when we met up with him in the mix zone, he walked past the press, punching a punching bag lightly as he walked, and said, “Training, training,” with a faint smile.
“You should watch the next game,” said the North Korean coach behind him.
Wrapped in a towel, Bang returned to the stadium to watch the other athletes compete.
Bang, a member of the Kumgangsan Athletic Club, won the women’s 51-kilogram category at the 2019 Asian Championships and also won North Korea’s “Republic Championships” last year. She won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang.
She was also named one of North Korea’s “10 Best Athletes” in 2018, 2021 and 2022.
Bang was the flag bearer for the North Korean team at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games the previous day, along with shooter Park Myong-won. 스포츠토토