Wang “Metal Storm” Wenfeng’s childhood bullies did not defeat him. Instead, they forged the Chinese warrior’s indomitable spirit and motivated him to succeed in martial arts.
This coming Saturday, 16 November, he will challenge for the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS in Beijing, China, and lifting the belt would be more affirmation that he has overcome his tormentors.
It has not been an easy road for “Metal Storm,” but he has never been short of fuel for his fire.
Before his World Championship bout against reigning titleholder Ilias “Tweety” Ennahachi inside the Cadillac Arena, learn a little bit more about the 26-year-old’s rise to the top.
Standing Up To The Bullies
Wang was born in Hefei, the capital city of China’s Anhui province, in 1993.
By his own admission, he was a “skinny, weak” kid, and his childhood was marred by constant tormenting at school. Despite his physical frailties, his mind was always strong.
“My classmates thought I was an easy target. They liked bullying me,” he explains.
“They kept asking me to do things like sweeping the floor, but of course I wasn’t willing to do so. I wasn’t going to concede defeat.
“Because I was bullied a lot, I was unhappy, but I was thinking about how to fight back. Even if I couldn’t win, I wanted to try fighting back.”
The hard times “Metal Storm” endured in the classroom contributed to his bad behavior. His grades were poor and he acted out.
“When I was young, I was naughty in school,” he reveals. “I didn’t like to study. My results were bad.”
In an effort to correct his behavior, his parents made a big decision — one that would change the course of his life.
A Martial Arts Education
Wang’s father and mother enrolled him in a martial arts school to help with his discipline. The youngster initially rejected the idea, but he was forced to attend regardless.
“My parents thought that I couldn’t study well. They gave me numerous chances, and then sent me to a martial arts school. At that time, I disagreed, but I went along with their decision,” he says.
“I didn’t really want to get to know martial arts as I only knew it from films and dramas on TV. They have flying people and can defeat 10 people at once. From what I remembered, they exaggerated it.”
However, it did not take long for him to be converted. He escaped the negative surroundings he was in, found a way of gaining both mental and physical confidence, and was finally accepted by his peers.
“I slowly got used to life in martial arts school. Everyone could get along well. The life there was different from what I thought,” he continues.
“I chose Chinese martial arts, and then I trained every day. Actually, I felt that the moves were cool. I was attracted to it.”
The sanda coach saw his talent, and he encouraged Wang to join the school team. After two years, the youngster moved to Hefei Sports School, where he continued his sanda journey and earned several provincial titles.
Soon, he was exposed to Muay Thai. Again, he had his reservations, but when he learned more about “the art of eight limbs,” he fell in love with it.
“I only saw Muay Thai in films. Muay Thai was violent to me. [I thought] it was vicious. The competition was fierce,” he says.
“After getting to know Muay Thai, it was actually simple. So, I got to know Muay Thai really quick. I fit into it.”
It was not a direct route to the top of the striking world for the Xingbo Shengshi Fight Club representative, however.
The full-contact nature of Muay Thai became very real when he sustained a serious injury during a bout.
“The lowest point in my life was during a competition in Thailand. I got hurt during the competition, but I held on for three rounds,” Wang says.
“I received treatment back in China. The doctor told me I may never return to the boxing ring again. I felt lost. For two months, I drank in the boxing gym. I didn’t listen to my coach’s advice. I let myself run wild.
“I didn’t have the courage to tell my family about my injury because they were afraid and worried. I was under pressure alone. I bore all the burden myself.”
“Metal Storm” was offered major surgery, but he was not happy with the risks — which included the prospect of never stepping back through the ring ropes.
Then, his coach suggested a traditional Chinese treatment which would take longer, but be less invasive. Wang went along with his proposition, and it eventually paid off.
After six months on the sidelines, he returned to training with even more hunger than before. Merely a year following his injury, he returned to active competition with great success.
Even though Wang experienced a difficult ordeal, he learned an invaluable lesson.
“No matter what trouble we face, as long as you face it enthusiastically, it’s not the worst,” he says. “It all depends on how you face it and step out to achieve certain goals.”
The Quest For ONE Gold
With four national titles and three World Championships to his credit, Wang is now one of the most successful Chinese strikers in history.
“I won the biggest prize in my life that year [after the injury]. I stood at the highest stage and won the World Championship. It was unbelievable,” he says. “Because I won that championship, I realized I can go further. It made me stronger.”
Now, he steps onto the global stage to compete for the most coveted title in combat sports yet — the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship.
Bullies and injuries were not enough to hold him back, and now he wants to continue pushing forward to show his strength and represent China in The Home Of Martial Arts.
“For my debut in ONE Championship, I’ll challenge for the [World Title]. There will be many questions, but I’m confident in myself and I’ll prove that I’m worth it,” he adds.
“I’ll prove myself using my abilities. I can challenge for the gold belt, and I believe that I can win it, too.
“Because I’m competing in my own country, this is a great chance for me. My family and friends are in Beijing. I want my parents to see their son win the belt.”
Beijing | 16 November | AGE OF DRAGONS | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast