Eddie Ng is rapidly becoming one of the most recognizable faces in Asian MMA, a media darling who has the looks, personality, and, most importantly, the skills to be a genuine superstar.
Originally from Hong Kong but now based in Singapore, he spent his formative years in a small town in the North East of England, an experience which he credits with making him into the man he is today, telling Fighters.com, “As an Asian I was the victim of a lot of bullying purely because of the color of my skin. Chester Le Street wasn’t a very diverse place and being from Hong Kong I stood out and people let me know about it. At times it was tough but, good or bad, all my past experiences have made me the man I am today.”
Today Ng is in the news almost every day with the South China Morning Post, the New York Times and the Straits Times among the newspapers which have recently picked up on his incredible life story. He has gone from being an outsider to a fully fledged celebrity but his story would have been very different had it not been for the influence of one man.
“Bruce Lee was my hero. Seeing someone in these movies who came from the same place as me and had the same skin color as me really changed my life and made me want to be a martial artist for the first time because I thought if I could become an amazing martial artist like Bruce Lee then the bullying would stop,” explained Ng.
Ng currently holds a professional MMA record of 5-1 and is one of the stars of ONE Fighting Championship, Asia’s biggest MMA organization. If his life story were a Bruce Lee movie than the scene would inevitably arrive when he beat down the bullies who had made his life a misery but reality is not as simply as certain script writers would have us believe and this moment never materialized because Ng says, for him, martial arts has never been about anger or revenge.
“I’ve never been in a fight in my life outside of the cage,” he revealed. “Learning MMA definitely solved some of my problems but only because it gave me a sense of discipline and a new direction in life. If I had attacked someone who was prejudiced against me for being Asian it would only have made them more likely to be racist to other people in future and I wouldn’t want that.”
Ng seems remarkably mild mannered outside of the cage but once the bell rings he displays unadulterated aggression, an approach which has seen him stop his previous two opponents in less than 45 seconds. Next up is a highly anticipated bout with 9-2 Frenchman Arnaud Lepont and the 27-year old says the strategy will be exactly the same.
“Who I am away from the cage is completely different from who I am when I am fighting. Afterwards I can be friends with my opponent but once the bell rings I am going all out to finish the fight and I know Arnaud Lepont will be doing the same which should make for a war, something the fans will hopefully remember for a long time,” he said.
Since 2011 Ng has been based in Singapore where he is a member of the Evolve MMA Fight Team. He initially traveled there for a training holiday but someone soon spotted his potential and persuaded him to make the move permanent.
“I remember looking on the Evolve MMA website and seeing that all the trainers were world champions and I had never seen anywhere with such a decorated team of instructors,” Ng explained. “I thought it would be the perfect place to improve as a martial artist and after a few days there the owner, Chatri Sityodtong, invited me to become a full time member of the fight team and I accepted immediately.”
Since then the speed at which Ng’s career has developed has, despite some setbacks, taken him by surprise, stating, “When I joined Evolve MMA I knew I would be working with the best trainers in the world but I still have to pinch myself when I look across the gym and see I am training next to someone like Shinya Aoki, Rich Franklin or Dan Henderson. Fighting for ONE FC has also been an amazing experience, in England I was used to fighting in front of a few hundred people but now ten thousand people come to see my fights and they are shown on TV all over the world,” he said.
The most significant setback was a serious shoulder injury which put paid to the fight between Ng and Lepont which was scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur last June. Now recovered and ready to face the Frenchman at ONE FC: Kings & Champions at the Singapore Indoor Stadium the Hong Kong native is looking forward to fighting for the first time in over a year.
“It was devastating to get injured but the most important thing was to rest and recover and I have done that. I am 100% confident that I am physically ready to fight again and this will be my third time fighting in Singapore and I have never lost here so I definitely want to win again,” said Ng.
Among Ng’s teammates are two of ONE FC’s top lightweights in Zorobabel Moreira and Aoki, who will be challenging for the belt next year. The man known as ‘The Magician’ is grateful to have training partners in the same weight division but believes if he keeps winning fights then a title show will eventually come.
“If you look at me, Shinya and Zoro we are all at very different stages of out careers,” offered Ng. “I believe Shinya will win the title on April 5 and I hope Zoro gets another shot at it because he was very unlucky not to win last time. All I need to do is keep winning fights and my time will come.”
With his name plastered across newspapers and magazines many would feel that Ng’s time is already here. The man who was once victimized by bullies is now dishing out punishment to opponents inside the ONE FC cage and following in the footsteps of his idol Bruce Lee by becoming a role model to young Asian men everywhere.
PHOTO CREDIT: ONE FC