I restore the Balance
Posted On:8/02/2003 12:01pm
Style: I wear pants
Fender-bender hit-run turns fatal in S.F.
Kickbox champ chases down driver, winds up shot to death
Saturday, August 2, 2003
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writers
Alex Gong, shown in a 2002 photo, was working out at the gym he owns when his parked car was hit. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka
World champion kickboxer Alex Gong's body lies covered by a tarp on Fifth Street between Folsom and Harrison streets. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka
A bystander wipes away tears as he sees Alex Gong's tarp-wrapped body lying on the street. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka
A world champion Thai-style kickboxer was shot to death in the middle of a busy San Francisco street Friday after he chased down a hit-and-run driver who had slammed into his parked car minutes earlier. Alex Gong, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene on Fifth Street near Harrison Street. Witnesses said he was shot at point-blank range when he confronted the driver, who apparently waited for a traffic signal to turn green before opening fire and speeding away.
Gong, who had been working out at the South of Market training gym he runs at 444 Clementina St., was wearing yellow boxing gloves and boxing trunks when he was killed. Late Friday night, police said they had identified the car believed to be the hit-and-run vehicle, a dark green 1995 Jeep Cherokee with license plate 3NAN185, and want to question the registered owner, 33-year-old Kurt Reiner of San Francisco. "He's not a suspect at this time," said Maria Oropeza, police spokeswoman. "He's only wanted for questioning." Police also are trying to locate his car, she said. The slaying came one day after San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and other officials announced the start of a campaign to crack down on hit-and-run driving.
The 4:30 p.m. incident began outside Gong's Fairtex gym when his car, also a Jeep Cherokee, was hit by a passing car. Enraged, Gong gave chase on foot, going a block east on Clementina, then a block and a half south on Fifth Street. At that point, Gong confronted the driver, who had been forced to stop as traffic backed up near the Bay Bridge on-ramp. ''The victim put his arm out to stop the driver, the driver pushed him back and then shot him -- point blank," said Marilyn Moore, a witness who was riding in a car on Fifth Street.
'I JUST COULDN'T BELIEVE IT'
"The victim grabbed himself and fell backward," she said. "The driver backed up, put the car in drive and drove off. He turned right on Harrison. "I just couldn't believe it, I've never seen nothing like that in my life," Moore said. Brian Lam, 26, an instructor at Fairtex, said members of the gym saw the initial fender-bender through an open garage door. Gong, who was inside training, took off barefoot after the man, said Lam, who grabbed a camera and followed. "As I was running up, I see Alex arguing with the guy," Lam said. "The light turned green, the guy popped him. He definitely waited for the light to turn green." Lam said he tried to take a picture of the fleeing Cherokee, but was in a rush to help his mortally wounded friend. "I just yelled for people to help," he said.
A motorcycle officer on the way to the Hall of Justice nearby stopped, and he and Lam both attempted to resuscitate Gong. "Last year, Alex paid for my CPR certification," Lam said. "I was giving him mouth-to-mouth, the officer was giving him chest compressions." Lam said a single bullet struck Gong just above the heart. "I thought he was dead maybe 10 seconds after he was shot," Lam said.
Gong, a resident of San Francisco, was born and raised in New England, and lived for a time in Central Asia before returning to the East Coast. He later moved to California and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in business. Long interested in judo and tae kwon do, Gong discovered Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing and the national sport of Thailand, in 1994. He once said in an interview that he was drawn to the sport by the fluid movement and careful balance it requires. He had a natural affinity for the sport and racked up an impressive array of championships in the middleweight and welterweight classes. He appeared regularly on HBO and ESPN and headlined fights at the MGM Grand and the Mirage in Las Vegas. He was a dedicated competitor who trained tirelessly, often waking at dawn to run five miles and perform scores of sit-ups, push-ups and other exercises before going to work.
Gong worked equally hard as a businessman who introduced Muay Thai to California when in 1996 he opened a San Francisco branch of Fairtex Combat Sports Camp -- founded in Bangkok in 1976. It wasn't long before the firm employed 20 instructors and included more than 600 students. It is, according to the company's Web site, the nation's top Muay Thai training facility and the only one recognized by the World Muay Thai Council, which is under the authority of the Thai government.
'AN AMAZING GUY'
Under Gong's leadership, Fairtex opened another facility in Daly City in 2000. As Gong's body lay in the middle of Fifth Street, wrapped in a yellow tarp, and police interviewed witnesses, students gathered at Fairtex. They were stunned and spoke with admiration for Gong. Lam said Gong was a mentor and a leader. "Alex was an amazing guy," Lam said. "He was the owner, but he was kind of like a big brother. It was a family environment. "He was a fighter to the end. He was arguing with this guy to get him to pull over -- all he had to do was get his plate, but he had to get into it with him," Lam said.
E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jaxon Van Derbeken at email@example.com.
Kungfoolss, Scourge of the theory-based stylists, Most Feared man at Bullshido.com, and the Preeminent Force in the martial arts political arena
Posted On:8/02/2003 12:23pm
Hmmm...maybe it has to do with the 'sport' mindset...
Posted On:8/02/2003 12:44pm
Style: Muay Thai & BJJ
I've watched Alex Gong fight. He was an awesome fighter.
This is a sad day. My thoughts and prayers to his family and students.
"When we go to the ground, you are in my world. The ground is the ocean, I am the shark, and most people don't even know how to swim." RCJ Machado
Originally Posted by Sifu Rudy Abel
"Just what makes a pure grappler think he can survive with an experienced striker. Especially if that striker isn't following any particular rule set and is well aware of what the grapplers strategies are".
Posted On:8/02/2003 1:10pm
Holy ****. Just...Holy ****.
Alex Gong was a fantastic fighter, I really enjoyed watching him. This is horrible. I hope they send the fuckhead that shot him to Fairtex instead of to prison.
I have discovered the true essence of Bullshido: To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And hear the lamentation of their women.
In short: to flame.
Posted On:8/02/2003 1:50pm
Such a shame.....this is what happens everybody when the new kid on the block meets up with the local crackhead gone crazy.
Posted On:8/02/2003 2:08pm
my prayers go out to his family.
Posted On:8/02/2003 3:14pm
this is so tragic...alex tried to make muay thai popular in the states...i hope he gets his memorial K1's like andy hug..
I trained w/ alex that friday morning. he was happy, heatlhy, etc. practice ended at 3. then i come home, and at night i found out 1.5 hours after i saw him (430) he was shot...
he was also an amazing guy...usually we have to pay for private lessons, but one time my friend had a fight. alex trained him when alex was bored. such a nice guy w/ so many dreams...he died in his muay thai shorts, so he died a brave kickboxer...
Do Be Open-minded
Don't Be Gullible
Aromatic Mornings, by BBN
Every morning I dream of Benzenes...
Posted On:8/02/2003 3:53pm
Hmmm...maybe it has to do with the 'sport' mindset
I doubt that. Alex didn't even put his hands on the guy. Yes, he should of just gotten the tag number, and called police. But lets face the facts most of us would of confronted someone that just hit our car. It wouldn't have mattered what martial arts the person had they would have still been shot. These things happen everyday unfortunatly. Alex was a good champion and a good person, he will be missed.
Posted On:8/02/2003 4:15pm
Damn...my prayers and best wishes to his family and friend
Decafinated white belt.
Posted On:8/02/2003 4:46pm
A sad day for us all :|
&lt;Me&gt; John, what do you know about Zen Buddhism? &lt;John&gt; *smacks me*
&lt;John&gt; I'd have to smack you sometime...
Katana, on 540 kicks: "Hang from a ceiling fan with both hands. Flail your feet out and ask people to walk into you as you hit their face."
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