Vinh and Phuong’s dedication and commitment have been significant factors in the development of a new generation of martial arts talents in Hanoi.

Hoang Vinh Giang, the late vice president of the Vietnam Olympic Committee and former director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports, praised Vinh as the best Sanshou fighter in Vietnam.

Vinh, a retired fighter and former Asian wushu champion, currently serves as the coach for the national men’s Sanshou team.

Overcoming Physical Limitations

Phan Quoc Vinh, 38, was born and raised in Bac Hong Commune, Dong Anh District, Hanoi.

He began training in traditional martial arts under the guidance of his uncle, Phan Quoc Phuong, at the age of seven.

Phuong later learned Wushu and passed down his knowledge to Vinh.

Despite facing obstacles, particularly his small size, throughout his career, Vinh persevered to become the best.

Vinh weighed just 30 kilograms when he was 12 years old, making him too small to train with Hanoi’s most talented wushu students.

Nevertheless, he refused to give up.

Despite his size and other challenges, Vinh pushed himself to excel.

“The total distance from my home to Trinh Hoai Duc Sports Center, where I trained, was 50 kilometers round trip. On summer days, I would pour water over my head to cool down,” Vinh recalled.

“I would ride my bike to Trinh Hoai Duc Sports Center at 3:00 pm for wushu training and wait until 5:00 pm for practice to begin. I usually didn’t get home until around 10:00 pm,” he added.

Eventually, Vinh gained weight and secured a spot at Hanoi Wushu Talent School when he reached 42 kilograms.

However, his success was short-lived as he was cut by coaches just one month into training due to perceived deficiencies in his skills, particularly his running abilities.

“I did my best to correct my mistakes, and a month later, I was invited to rejoin the school. Eventually, I became the fastest runner on the team,” Vinh shared.

Cutting Weight

One of Vinh’s early major victories was winning the gold medal at the National Wushu Competition for Young Athletes in 2000 after only seven months with Hanoi’s young Wushu team.

A year later, Vinh was selected for the national junior wushu team, followed by the national Wushu team.

He achieved remarkable performances in both the 48 and 52 kilogram weight categories, including a gold medal at the 2001 Asian Junior Wushu Championships, a gold medal at the 2003 SEA Games, a silver medal at the 2004 Asian Wushu Championships, and a silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games.

Vinh is also known for his intense weight cuts and gains to qualify for competitions.

“After defeating a Chinese opponent and winning the gold medal at the Asian Junior Wushu Championships in 2001, I was chosen by Hoang Vinh Giang to compete in the Asian Wushu Championships that same year,” Vinh said.

Fighters at Wushu King Club in Bac Hong commune, Dong Anh district, capital Hanoi. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre
Fighters at Wushu King Club in Bac Hong Commune, Dong Anh District, Hanoi. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

“At that time, I weighed 58 kilograms and needed to lose 10 kilograms to compete in the 48-kilogram weight class.

“When I received the official schedule for the competition, I only had 10 days to lose 10 kilograms,” Vinh recounted.

Vinh successfully lost the first eight kilograms but struggled to shed the remaining two kilograms.

“I decided not to eat for two days, which made me extremely tired.

“Fortunately, I managed to lose weight and participate in the competition.

“I won the silver medal in the 48 kilogram weight category,” he recalled.

While losing too much weight can be challenging, competing with a full stomach also poses its own difficulties.

At the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea, where Vinh competed in the 52 kilogram weight class, he weighed in the day before the competition and immediately began eating.

In just one day, he gained nine kilograms, but the large amount of food and water he consumed compromised his performance in several matches.

After a successful career as a professional fighter, Vinh turned to coaching.

He currently serves as the deputy dean of Hanoi’s Wushu team.

At the 21st SEA Games, several of Vinh’s students competed for the national Wushu team and won a total of 10 gold medals.

Wushu King – Fulfilling the Dream of a Former Asian Champion

Located in Bac Hong Commune on the outskirts of Dong Anh District, Hanoi, Vinh’s Wushu King Club is renowned for training numerous talented Wushu fighters from Hanoi and across the country.

In 2007, Vinh and his uncle Phan Quoc Phuong established Wushu King Club with the goal of nurturing top-level talent in the country.

The club, worth VND2 billion (US$85,550), is built on 700 square meters of family land, and many of their relatives also work at the club.

The students who train at the club are among the most gifted in the city, and all receive free instruction.

Students who live far from the center are provided with free accommodation and meals.

The best students at the club are offered positions on Hanoi’s Wushu team.

In 2018, two athletes from Wushu King Club won gold medals at the national junior Wushu tournament.

To finance the Wushu King Club, the coaches rent out the facility to others who need a space for training various martial arts.

Thanks to its impressive achievements, Wushu King Club has gained recognition for producing the city’s top Wushu talents.

Hoang Van Cao, the coach of Hanoi’s Sanshou team, also trains at Wushu King Club.

“Wushu King is like a family where young students can pursue their academic studies while participating in Wushu,” Cao said.

Hoang Dinh Kien, former deputy director of the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center, who encouraged Vinh to establish Wushu King Club, expressed his appreciation for the club’s contribution to the development of talented fighters.

“Such martial arts clubs help identify and cultivate potential Wushu players for the Hanoi and Vietnam teams,” he said.

A Grateful Message for the Coaches!

Pham Van Vu, a 16-year-old student from the northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang, was selected to join Wushu King Club by Vinh in 2018.

Vu won the bronze medal at the 2020 national junior Wushu competition.

“Since I joined Wushu King, my family hasn’t had to support me financially.

Initially, coaches Vinh and Phuong helped cover all my living expenses. Then, when I won a medal, the Hanoi City Sports Department supported me with meal costs.

“I am deeply grateful to the teachers for helping me realize my dreams,” said the young athlete.

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