Who doesn’t love an inspiring story about a determined kid, overcoming obstacles and becoming a positive role model for others? You’re about to meet Andre Magnum, a 10-year old American currently living in China and making his mark on the world.
Diagnosed with severe hyperactivity at the age of three, Andre’s parents were told that he’d either need to be on medication to attend school, or get “lots of exercise.” Trying various ways to accomplish the latter, Andre knew exactly what he wanted to do after seeing a Jackie Chan movie or two.
His parents painstakingly found instructors to help Andre study, learn and excel at Kungfu, resulting in winning numerous competitions and ultimately moving to China with his father, Kenn (his mother remained in the U.S. to work). Andre was the first foreigner to be accepted to an elite Chinese program at Shaolin Temple for the first half of 3rd grade, and then was accepted at ShiChaHai Sports School (China’s Olympic Training Center). He will stay until at least June 2013.
Demanding instructors insisted that Andre learn Chinese, so through immersion at school he is now fluent in Mandarin. His academics are impressive as well; on Chinese standardized tests he scored 98% and 96%.
Andre’s Chinese name is Wang Zi Long, and he has become an unofficial ambassador for Kungfu and China. He presents, volunteers, demonstrates and helps raise money for charities. His accolades are too many to print here, but range from winning over 55 competitions worldwide, being featured in the October 2011 issue of Blackbelt Magazine, and being a finalist for Sports Illustrated’s SportsKid of the Year 2011. The movie “A Boy in China” was recently released by and is available through amazon.com, emptymindfilms.com and other venues.
In early May, Andre visited Dengfeng with the purpose of setting up a U.S. Charity focusing on providing clothes and school supplies to the students. Kung Fu Daddy runs a Kungfu school that accepts the poorest of the poor kids in China, most of whom cannot afford to pay any tuition and some who are actually orphans. The weekend was spent with students, and collecting photos and videos to take back to the U.S. so that Andre can promote the charity and ask for donations during events and competitions.
A 10-year old boy who needed some help when he was three found a way to not only overcome his challenges, but thrive doing something he loves. He left a very comfortable life in the U.S. to pursue a more difficult life in a different culture. And due to his success, he is able to appreciate the opportunities he’s been given and is learning the importance of giving back.
Inspiring stories come in all shapes and sizes, and at all ages. Andre Magnum is one to keep watch for, and as he’s in Beijing I sure hope that you and I have an opportunity to meet him some day.
Photos by Andre Magnum.