Fighter’s best prize came after match

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Fighter’s best prize came after match

It only took a minute and 13 seconds for Dennis Kang to knock out Kim Hyeong-joon in the final of the Spirit MC’s International Amateur Championship, a martial arts competition at 88 Stadium in Deungchondong, southwestern Seoul, on Saturday.
Kang Jeong-geun, 53, watched his every move, never leaving the side of the ring. It was the first time he had seen his son in 14 years, and he wasn’t about to waste a single moment.
Before walking off with the trophy and 3 million won ($2,572) in prize money, martial arts expert Dennis Kang, 27, affectionately hugged his father and said everyone in his family still respected him, words that resonated with the aging father.
In 1976, on Saint Pierre and Miquelon Island in Canada, the senior Mr. Kang, who was then a shipmate on a Spanish vessel, had to be hospitalized for appendicitis. He fell in love with a volunteer aide who was tending to him and they started a relationship.
After recuperating, Mr. Kang had to travel back to Spain but soon returned after receiving a call that his girlfriend on the island was pregnant.
On the island, Mr. Kang started a family and ran a food supply store. Mrs. Kang taught elementary students at a local school. They had two more sons, Thomas and Julian.
In 1990, a business opportunity emerged for Mr. Kang, who is fluent in French. An agency that was involved in the bullet train project in Korea wanted Mr. Kang to be the head of the Korean branch.
“I was planning to bring my family to Seoul when business was good, but every time at the last moment, everything collapsed,” Mr. Kang said. “Fourteen years just passed by.”
Mr. Kang frequently called his family in Canada over the phone and his wife made two trips to Seoul, but he never saw his three sons.
Mr. Kang still lives alone in Gangnam, southern Seoul, and runs a private business.
Dennis Kang said he will sign up for all competitions held in Korea or in Japan to make up for lost time with his father. After retiring from the sport, he plans to open a Brazilian martial arts gym in Korea and marry a Korean woman.
The middle brother, Thomas, 24, represents Dennis as a manager, and the youngest, Julian, 22, works for a shipping company in Canada.
Mrs. Kang, who is four years older than her husband, continues to teach on the same island where she met her husband. She returned to the island two years ago but after retiring she plans to settle down in Korea with her husband.

by Song Ho-jun
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