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Bruce’s visit to St. Francis was actually 13th March 1973

July 31 2015 at 4:38 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

 
All the while, people thought the date which Bruce Lee returned to his Alma Mater was 28th February 1973. This was the date which the school officially recorded as its Sports Day. The fact is, Bruce was too busy filming ETD and thus, was unable to visit on the appointed day. It was until the morning in 13th March that Bruce suddenly called the school to say that he was available to visit the school. This was confirmed by many St. Francis College’s former students including Teddy Chan Tek-Sen and Alex Cheung Kwok-Ming (both are famous HK directors now) who were present during Bruce Lee’s visit to St. Francis College.

The first link below shows the table calendar on the right-hand side of the photo where Bruce was signing the guest book. The table calendar page clearly showed 13th. This was Bruce’s actual day of visit to St. Francis School. Bruce’s photos and his autograph can still be found in the school which were kept perfectly well till today.

Bruce’s visit on 13th March 1973: http://postimg.org/image/8w2emm7wh/
Photos of Bruce in St. Francis I: http://postimg.org/image/43eojcqpj/
Photos of Bruce in St. Francis II: http://postimg.org/image/poy025pt7/
Rare Photos of Bruce in St Francis III: http://postimg.org/image/5p86nsl2n/

Upon hearing the good news, the school quickly made an urgent announcement of the prize-giving event and summoned all students to the school field to wait for the Superstar. Before Bruce’s arrival, teachers allowed some students who were living nearby to go home and bring their cameras to take pictures of Bruce. Students returned to the school soon with their cameras along with Bruce’s photos and posters, magazines (for autograph purposes) etc.

Finally, Bruce arrived with Bob Baker in a cab. Brother Gregory, the Principal (Brother with the sideburn in the photo), Brother Denis (the slim elderly Brother with beard in the photo) and Brother Edward (the plump elderly Brother in the photo) all went to welcome Bruce. For an update, Brother Gregory is currently preaching in Kenya while Brother Edward who drafted Bruce to the school boxing team in 1958 and Brother Denis who used to lead the school song in all kinds of school events have already passed away in 1975 and 2007 respectively.

According to the homepage of La Salle Old Boys’ Association, Bruce entered La Salle College in September 1951 at the age of 11, studying Class 8 (equivalent to Primary 5). He entered St. Francis Xavier right after he was expelled by La Salle in 1956 at the age of 16. Bruce spent 3 years repeating Form 1 in La Salle, and when he entered St. Francis Xavier he attended Form 2 (note: the enrollment record shows Bruce’s birthday as 27th Nov. 1941, 1 year younger, which might be a careless mistake made by the staff or told by Bruce’s family with an intention to hide his real age from embarassment). It was in St. Francis College that he made some good friends like Hawkins Cheung, Steward Fung and Henry Pang who were all Bruce’s classmates then. They used to go to Ip Man’s school for Wing Chun lessons together after school. Bruce’s main interest then was learning Kung Fu and fighting. He did not do well in his academic result, in fact, he left St. Francis College without graduating as a Form 4 student in 1959. However, Bruce became a diligent student after he went to U.S. He just used slightly more than a year to complete his high school education and passed with good result which enable him to qualify for a place in the University of Washington.

It was 14 years after Bruce left St. Francis College. On 13th March 1973, Bruce returned to the school as the most renowned alumni and was invited to be the Guest of Honor in presenting the Sports Day awards and prizes to the winners. According to those who were present, Bruce even sang the school anthem with over hundreds of students and the staff of the school. This might be the only time Bruce sang in the public in his low vocal with so many people.

The principal, Brother Gregory first gave a welcoming speech and then invited Bruce on stage. Initially, Bruce opened his mouth and started to deliver his speech in English but the crowd boos. They wanted to hear Bruce speak in Cantonese, his mother tongue. So, Bruce did and there was a thunderous applause from the students below the stage. However, the face of the teachers and principal who were mainly Caucasians, turned stern. It was the first time a guest spoke in Cantonese in front of the students in this Catholic English school. But they could not do anything to stop him because he was HK superstar, Bruce Lee.

Bruce talked about his mischievous days in St. Francis College and how he was caught by Brother Edward fighting in the toilet and was then picked to join the school boxing team. Subsequently he represented St. Francis to compete in the inter-high schools boxing championship. In the preliminary rounds, he beat 3 contestants and in the final he beat 3 times champion, Gary Elms from King George V School, to win the boxing champion in 1958. The students were all proud of Bruce’s victory which brought honor to their school. Then, the students cheered Bruce to show off his muscles. Bruce obliged and took off his jacket and pink shirt, and flexed his muscles as well as showed off his washboard abs. The students jumped with thrills and almost went crazy. They were extremely delighted to see their idol granting their wish and therefore, kept on cheering. Bruce returned with a charming grin. However, the lady teacher behind Bruce felt a bit embarrassed and turned her head away.

Later, Bruce started to present awards and prizes to the students. Many tried to snatch photos of him. Teddy Chan received the award from Bruce who was wearing a trendy blue suit that day. Bruce stretched out his big hand to shake with 14 years old Teddy who had won 3 gold medals in the Sports Day. Teddy still kept a photo (in his wallet till today) which captured this precious moment of Bruce and him together. In fact, both Bruce and Teddy knew each other beforehand. Teddy was the classmate of Nora Miao’s brother. He met Bruce in one of his visits to Nora Miao’s house. Teddy was surprised and overwhelmed with joy to see the superstar personally. Bruce was very nice and friendly to him. He even jokingly said to him, “Teddy, do you know why the color of your school washroom was different from the past? It is because I always fought and punched other school baddies’ nose and the blood of their bled noses spattered over the wall. The school had no choice but to re-paint the wall frequently.” After hearing his “glory pasts” and witnessing his martial arts prowess, Teddy admired Bruce even more and he thought that Bruce was really the best kicker he has ever seen followed by Dorian Tam Tao-Liang whom he saw him performing 7 consecutive Tae Kwon Do kicks while jumping in the air.

Director Alex Cheung was a big fan of Bruce. He took many photos of himself together with Bruce on that important day. Bruce signed an autograph for Alex. Alex was astonished and pleased to see Bruce wrote some Chinese characters on the back of the photo which literally says, “Lee Siu Loong (Bruce’s Chinese name) wa, “Mo-Tat-Teng!” (Cantonese. Means Bruce Lee says, “Marvelous!”)” Bruce seldom signed his autographs in Chinese. Alex was lucky to have one. Upon meeting Bruce, Alex was inspired by him and later on, entered the film industry. He made quality pictures and won many film awards just like Teddy Chan.

After the award presentation ceremony, Bruce and Bob Baker were ushered by the staff to the school office. Bruce left few complimentary words and his signature on the guest book while Brother Gregory looked on by his side. Bruce took photos with the students as well as Brother Gregory and Brother Edward etc. who thanked Bruce for attending the Presentation Ceremony and then sent them off. The news appeared in the press days after. 45 years have passed, memory of that day always come to their minds. Both Teddy and Alex felt very fortunate to have met and spoke to their idol face-to-face, took photos with him and got his autographs. It would be a memory that they would always cherish and feel proud of.

 
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Responses

  • Many thanks! - HB on Jul 31, 2015, 6:30 AM
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  • Great article thanks LJF (NT) - Suresh on Jul 31, 2015, 8:57 AM
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  • Awesome job, thanks LIF! - JKD54 on Aug 1, 2015, 7:03 PM
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  • Excellent Info LJF. Do you know... - Shang Chi on Aug 1, 2015, 9:56 PM
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  • 91 years old Brother Gregory at St. Francis Xavier - LJF on Feb 25, 2016, 7:13 AM
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  • Re: Bruce’s visit - to LJF - Anonymous on Mar 3, 2016, 12:22 AM
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  • Brother Gregory attended Bruce's funeral - LJF on Mar 5, 2016, 7:57 AM
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