Tang Kai is among the fastest-rising prospects in One Championship right now. A WBK Tournament Champion, the now 26 year-old Chinese fighter impressed in his One Championship debut scoring an electrifying, head kick knockout over Korean fighter, Sung Jong Lee.
Since then, Tang Kai has gone 6-0 in the Singapore-based promotion, 4 wins of which came by way of knockout. Tang Kai earned his highest-profile victory against Kim Jae Woong, who defeated former featherweight champion, Martin Nguyen.
Now the no. 1-ranked featherweight contender, Tang Kai is no doubt the next in line to fight defending champion, Thanh Le for the featherweight title.
KFK recently had the honor to interview Tang Kai where he candidly speaks about his martial arts background, motivation, mindset, and much more! So without further ado please welcome this uber-talented fighting machine who’s on a right royal tsunami of a tear right now…Tang Kai!
Hello Tang, first off, it’s great to connect with you, and we hope you’re doing well?
I’m doing well, thanks so much for having me Jeff!
That’s great, and you’re most welcome! So what do you think of our name Kung Fu Kingdom, and our mission to inspire 100 million people across the planet to get into martial arts?
I really like the name and your mission. I think that the more people become interested in doing martial arts, the better!
Absolutely! Let’s start off with the basics, where and when were you born?
I was born in Hunan, China in 1996.
What is your height and weight, including your walkaround weight?
I am 1.77m tall, and I’m usually around 74kg.
Alright. So what was your childhood like in Hunan?
I was a naughty kid that liked to get into fights, haha!
That’s often a pretty common theme! Which 5 figures have inspired you the most on your martial arts journey?
Let’s say Bruce Lee, and myself! Well it’s pointless to be like someone else, the best thing to do for yourself is to work hard.
Well said. What age were you when you started out in martial arts then? What disciplines and styles did you train, and when did you decide to transition into MMA?
I started wrestling at the age of 12. I did it for around 5 years, then I transitioned into MMA when I was 19.
I see. Before you signed to One Championship, you were a WBK Tournament Champion. What interesting stories do you best recall from back then?
I pretty much remember knocking out my opponents and I was really happy!
Great memories I’m sure then! When you signed with One Championship, you debuted against Korea’s Sung Jong Lee, whom you defeated with a head kick. What insights can you share with us about that moment, and how did you get the call to fight in One?
I first got into One Championship through one of my agents. I think Koreans such as Sung Jong Lee are really tenacious, and they have very strong willpower. They would only push forward and never back down. So to have a victory over one of them (Sung Jong in this case) means a lot to me!
Good example of that strength of character is The Korean Zombie. Most recently, you knocked out Kim Jae Woong, who defeated former champion Martin Nguyen, and now you’re the no.1 contender because of that. What insights can you share with us about your fight with Kim?
I think the highlight of that was that I never thought he could beat me, but that I could beat him. And within 1 to 2 minutes, I knocked him out!
I see. Out of so many fights you’ve had in One, you haven’t lost yet and you’ve fought some big names like Edward Kelly and Keanu Subba. Out of all your One fights, who would you say was your most challenging opponent?
I’d say Kim Jae Woong, because he’s a high-level competitor with a lot of experience, not to mention all the guys he has fought and defeated. So for me, it was a big challenge.
It definitely was. Now that you’re the no.1 contender, there should be no question that you’re the one who should fight Thanh Le for the title next. What do you think of Thanh Le as an opponent, and how do you think this fight will play out in your favor?
I think he’s a very strategic fighter with a strong Taekwondo background but I don’t think he’s ever fought someone like me, or someone as good as me. So I think I could beat him because he never fought someone with my style.
Great confidence! You most recently relocated to Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand. How’s the training been going there?
Tiger Muay Thai brings in a lot of people from around the world. They have different styles, and it has a really good atmosphere. But I still like my old gym in China, as I have teammates who could help me prepare for upcoming fights.
At Tiger Muay Thai, you have some leeway since you’re only training there. You’re not really part of the team. There’s not much time for them to help you personally. So overall, the good things about Tiger are the atmosphere, the weather, and how there are different people from around the world training different styles.
A Week in the Life of Tang Kai…
Fantastic! Now could you walk us through a typical week in the life of Tang Kai?
Well on Mondays, I spar in the morning, and grapple in the afternoon. I train twice a day from Monday to Friday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. On Saturdays, I train in the morning, rest in the afternoon, and I rest on Sunday.
That’s quite a rigorous schedule! What is your diet like leading up to fights, which foods help you stay strong and energetic for training and life as well as for fight camps when you have to cut weight?
Well, I don’t really need to cut weight until the week before fight day, but other than that, I’ll just eat until I’m full. I eat very clean. Once I arrive at the hotel for fight week, that’s when I start monitoring my weight.
Tang Kai’s Top 3 Favourites
Very efficient. Okay, so what are Tang Kai’s Top 3 favourite martial-arts movies of all time?
I watched a lot as a kid, but I don’t watch as much as an adult. I loved watching Jackie Chan, so I would say “Police Story“, “Project A” and “Wheels on Meals“.
Solid choices! What are your top 3 own most memorable MMA fights?
I’d say the first one would be against Kim Jae Woong, then Edward Kelly, then Keanu Subba.
How about your top 3 MMA fights of all time?
I would say the most recent fight in which Tony Ferguson got knocked out by Michael Chandler, Conor McGregor‘s 13-second KO of José Aldo, and Street Jesus, Jorge Masvidal‘s flying knee KO of Ben Askren.
Advice & Reflections
Iconic choices there. Okay, so what suggestions would you give those looking to pursue MMA as a career, and perhaps aspiring champions?
I’d say, find a solid gym with a lot of high-level athletes and great coaches. Make sure you’re conditioned to take hits.
Fun & Leisure
Great advice! Now what are some of your hobbies outside of martial arts?
I have a lot. In Thailand, I love to go to the beach, because I feel really calm watching the ocean. I love swimming too. In China, I like to hang out with my girlfriend, and eat good food.
Cool! So, if you could be a superhero, who would you be?
Hmm, I’d say Thor!
Interesting. Which warrior-wisdom quotes or philosophy have helped you become who you are today?
I’d say, if you firmly believe in an end goal, you can achieve it.
Tang Kai’s Message for KFK Followers…
Love that! What special message would you like to share with Kung Fu Kingdom followers and your fans around the world right now?
I’d like to tell everyone that I will put on more fun fights and hope that more people will support me and follow my career, as well as follow Kung Fu Kingdom!
Thanks so much Tang Kai! It’s been a great honour and an immense pleasure to interview you, and we wish you all the best of success with your upcoming fights in 2022!