August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
Martin Parr
Photography

Lewis Kew Ming aka China

 

I used to get called Chinky and Chinaman at school, then Little China when I was boxing, I used to hate it, but now I like it. I even had a band called Made in China, I was singing in it, but now I just do a bit of karaoke. I’ve always been involved in sport; it’s always been part of my life. I was adopted - I never met my parents but I know I’ve got bits of everything in me.

I had a couple of fights as a boxer around Melbourne, and then I was fighting up here in the late seventies.  I used to take part in the big North West competition, Golden Gloves & Iron Gloves that was held at The Pier Hotel. People from all over the Pilbara would come there to fight. They would look at you, and say, okay, you’re as big as him, jump in. After a few years I found out the weaknesses of the other boxers and I won the last year it was ever run; now it’s held under the West Australian Amateur Boxing Association. I had a step father who played for North Melbourne who influenced me to get into boxing as defence, because he used to bash me a bit.

I arrived in the Pilbara because friends of mine were coming over here. It was about five o’clock in the morning after we’d finished work, I was working in the entertainment industry and we all just jumped in a car, one of them had a girlfriend in Wickham. Arriving in the Pilbara with all that dust was quite a culture shock but it was the best thing that could have happened, it grounded me. I spent 17 years in Karratha and some time in Roebourne, that’s an excellent community, there is so much history there and it will never change and I’ve been in Port Hedland for 20 years.

China’s Boxing Gym has been going for about eleven years; I wanted to get the kids off the street, keep them out of trouble. Boxing makes them stronger in the mind, it gives them discipline and self confidence because I’m very strict. They can look forward to something, some of them are pretty good, in the future they could be champions, if you push them a little bit. I teach them to walk away from fights, educate them as much as I can about self-respect. When they finish with me they are very tired and if they get in the ring here, I tell them they’re not to do it out in the street: what they learn here, they keep here. I get the parents involved, train them too. It’s a good cardio and keeps you healthy and fit.

We have a real mix of people coming here, all different nationalities and ladies too, because life can be tough for them too. The building we train in was the first hospital built in Port Hedland, lots of Aboriginal people were born here, it is over a 100 years old, and it’s all heritage land, I got permission from Aboriginal people to use this building.

I worked at The Pier Hotel for eight years as a resident compere for the dancing girls. These days I work in the hospital as an orderly, I always help people with a bit of counselling if they need it too. Once a year I also play Father Christmas, I ride all around Port Hedland on my Harley Bad Boy, I’ve had it since 1995, and they’ve stopped making them now.

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