Bruce Lee fans in Hong Kong find new champion

There’s only one place in Wong Yiu-keung’s heart—and that’s for late martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

Wong describes Lee as his first and only true love in his life. He dedicates most of his time in running the Bruce Lee Club, Lee’s only fan club in Hong Kong, while he has put his family, friends and career on the sidelines to organise the city’s first festival dedicated to the kung fu hero.

“I’ve told my girlfriend that if you have problems with it, you’ll have to rethink on our relationship,” Wong says.

“This is very important to my life. She cannot ask me to give it up; we have that understanding between us and it’s reasonable,” he says.

Lee has been 36-year-old Wong’s idol since he was a teenager in the 1980s who discovered the star’s martial arts films from a decade earlier.

“As a boy when I was growing up, we always wanted to find a hero we could learn from, and I thought Bruce Lee was a perfect role model.
I wanted to be him,” Wong says.

“He could fight, he helped the poor, he was smart and looked cool and handsome, he’s muscular and strong. He was a very attractive man.”

In a society that used to longingly look to Japanese culture, Lee was not everyone’s idol.

“I was singled out from my school when I was young. Most of my friends would put stickers of female Japanese stars in their textbook, but my books were full of Bruce Lee’s stickers,” he recalls.

Wong is no ordinary fan of the martial arts master, who died 32 years ago. He has collected more than 3 000 memorabilia items from video tapes, laser disks and DVDs to toys, posters, books and magazines.

He has watched Lee’s films so many times that he has lost count.

“If you show me one frame of a Bruce Lee movie, I will be able tell you which film and which part it was from,” he says.

With week-long celebrations to mark what would have been the star’s 65th birthday on Sunday, Wong is busier than ever. He has worked full time over the past six months to get the festival up and running.

He led a campaign urging the government to erect the first Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong, which it will finally do on Sunday after Wong also raised HK$800 000 to create it.

But the magazine publisher considers himself lucky that he could spend a lot of his time for his idol, even though his publishing business has suffered as a result.

Wong built up the Bruce Lee Club in the past 10 years and it now has over 400 members across the world with Lee’s brother Robert Lee, as his honorary chairman.

Wong says if he died today at the age of 36—four years older than Lee was when he died from an edema in 1973—Wong says he would have no regrets.

“Money doesn’t give me the satisfaction I feel now. Nothing can bring the happiness that it gives me,” he says.

“People have big hopes and goals and want to make a lot of money. I am happy to live a life like this. I don’t need to make money to reach my goal.

“I’ve already reached them. If I died today, I would be a very lucky, happy man.” - AFP

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