HK Colony Fencing Champion In 1958

August 29 2015 at 5:23 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

1958 was a fruitful year for the Lee’s family. It was a year Lee Hoi-Chuen was proud of because his three sons, Peter Lee, Bruce Lee and Robert Lee all brought honor and glory to the Lee family. His eldest son, Peter Lee won the Hong Kong Colony Fencing Champion in March. In the same month, on 29th, his second son, Bruce Lee won the Hong Kong High School Boxing Championship. In addition, Bruce Lee and his younger brother, Robert Lee teamed up and won the Hong Kong Cha-Cha Dance Champion in that same year.
Much has been discussed about Bruce and his boxing victory but little was heard about Peter Lee and his fencing. So, below is a little tribute to the late Peter Lee, elder brother of Bruce Lee.

Peter Lee (23rd Oct. 1939 – 3rd Sept. 2008)
Peter was the eldest son of Lee Hoi Chuen. His Chinese name was Lee Chung-Sum aka Lee Jung-Sum. His childhood nickname was “Lun Mou” (Cantonese, meaning curly hair) as he was born with a head of natural curly hair. His siblings Phoebe was nicknamed “Big eyes,” Agnes was “Phoenix B,” Bruce was “Sai Fung” and Robert was “Kau Jai”(little puppy). Unlike Bruce, Peter was good in his study and was more well-behaved since young. Thus, his father Lee Hoi Chuan has less worry about his elder son as compared to his second son who was a “trouble-maker.” Bruce who was in between Peter and Robert, yearned for his father’s love and had always tried to get his attention. Bruce had much respect for Peter even though he always wanted to compare and compete with him in one way or another. Since they were only one year in age difference, they were quite a close companion to each other in their childhood days. They used to play cowboys, Zorro and sword fighting, imitating the on-screen Western heroes, Chinese and Japanese pulgilists heroes. Both Bruce and Peter’s characters were different as Peter tend to be more reserved and introvert while Bruce, more outspoken and extrovert. They complement each other very well. Except Bruce, Peter and the rest of the siblings who had some cameo appearances in the early Cantonese movies, had less interest in the entertainment industry and thus, all chose different paths in their life.

The Brotherhood
According to Robert Lee, one day, he and Peter came home with bruises on their face and bodies. Bruce saw and quickly asked what had happened to them. Peter said he and little Robert were watching some teenagers playing soccer on a field and suddenly the football flew and landed in front of Robert. Little Robert unintentionally kicked the ball back to the field and hit a guy. The few youngsters felt offended and wanted to attack and beat Robert up. Peter immediately went over to protect his younger brother. They were outnumbered, thus, were hurt and quickly escaped their way home. After learning the incident, Bruce was annoyed and got Peter to show him where those culprits were. Upon reaching the field, he shouted to those guys and demanded the culprits to step forward. Those teenagers were older and physcially bigger than Bruce. Bruce was not intimated and in a nick of time, he punched and kicked the hell of the biggest guy who seemed to be the leader of the gang and the rest were stunned. They were afraid of being the next one to be beaten, hence, they quickly dispersed and vanished from the field. Bruce warned them not to bully his brothers again otherwise they would get some punches from him.

La Salle College’s Fencing
Peter graduated from La Salle College, the same school which Bruce attended and later got expelled from. As the Lasallians remembered, “Peter was arguably one of the all-time greatest fencers of our school. He was the Hong Kong Colony Champion, and among other competitions, he represented Hong Kong in the Commonwealth Games in Wales, United Kingdom, in 1958. Quoting from the "Sons of La Salle" school history book relating to Peter and his fencing team: La Salle began fencing in the late 50s, and won the Championship in the first interschool Fencing Competition in March 1958. Peter Lee, the elder brother of Bruce Lee, was the Colony Champion-at-Arms, and represented Hong Kong on a number of occasions. Peter was both fencer and coach to the La Salle Fencing Team, which later started a streak of winning the Interschool Fencing Championship from 1968, amassing eleven victories in the next thirteen years. - unquote - Peter was not only a top athlete, but also a scholar. He worked in the government as an Assistant Director of the then Royal Observatory. He later migrated to Australia. Peter also taught in La Salle College for a time in the 1960s.”

King of HK Fencing
Peter Lee was good in his study and sports. He loved fencing and had influenced his brother Bruce to take up fencing lessons with him. He taught Bruce the essential footwork, body and hand movements of fencing. Peter was so outstanding in his fencing skills that he was looked upon like the King of HK Fencing by some admirers. As the HK Fencing Association remembered, “Fencing was at its peak in 1957. Under the leadership of Mr Peter G. Williams, the Association was able to function more effectively and efficiently. The growing popularity of the sport enabled us to send a team to the Empire Games (now called Commonwealth Games) in Cardiff, Wales in 1958. The Team consisted of J. Marcal, P. Marcal, Peter Lee, Reuben Lynn and Hung Hak Yau, total 5 members. Hung became a finalist in the individual foil event. There was a photo of Bruce and his father, Lee Hoi-Chuen sending Peter Lee off at the dock with a group of friends and relatives in July 1958 (refer to the photo in the link).

1958 Commonwealth Games in Wales (U.K.)
The 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games were held in Cardiff, Wales from 18th – 26th July 1958. Thirty-five nations sent a total of 1,130 athletes and 228 officials to the Cardiff Games and 23 countries and dependencies won medals, including, for the first time, Singapore, Ghana, Kenya and the Isle of Man. The Cardiff Games introduced the Queen's Baton Relay, which has been conducted as a prelude to every British Empire and Commonwealth Games ever since.

According to the 1958 Commonwealth Games’s historical records, Peter Lee participated in 3 events, i.e. 1) Epee Individual – Men (total: 20 contestants). Both Peter and Reuben Lynn represented HK, Peter only won in round 1 but did not enter the quarter-finals; 2) Epee Team – Men (6 teams). Peter Lee, Reuben Lynn and Hung Hak Yau represented HK team who had a win but did not make it to the semi-finals; 3) Foil Individual – Men (total: 22 contestants), Peter Lee, J. Marcal, and Hung Hak Yau represented HK. Peter again won only in the first round but unfortunately, did not make it to the quarter-finals. The champions for the above 3 events all went to the U.K. contestants, namely Henry William F.Hoskyns (Epee Individual – Men), Englang Team - Allan Louis N. Jay, Henry William F. Hoskyns and M.J.P. Howard (Epee Team – Men) and Raymond R.R.V. Paul (Foil Individual – Men).

This was the first time HK sent a fencing team to compete abroad in an international event. Although HK team did not win any medals for its colony but fencing team members including Peter Lee did gain a lot of experience from this international competition and this had helped to leverage his skills and knowledge to a certain extent after competing with the good skills international fencers.

Fencing’s Influence on Bruce
Bruce Lee was influenced by Peter Lee and was curious with the fencing footwork. As a martial arts enthusiast, he earnestly learnt fencing (Epee and foil) from his brother (there’s a photo depicts Bruce in fencing uniform taken circa 1956/57 which he might have taken lessons from his brother at La Salle School hall then) and through various fencing books. Later, Bruce incorporated fencing footwork into his JKD which was well-known to most of us.
In fact, Bruce Lee once called JKD “Fencing without a sword.” Much of the strategic side of JKD can be traced to fencing. Most notable of these is what Bruce Lee called his ”5 Ways of Attack”. Essentially all attacks can be broken into 5 different approaches. And through understanding each approach one can create strategies quickly against various opponents. Even the backbone of JKD punching–the Lead Straight–comes from Lee’s study of fencing and resembles a fencer’s lunge attack.

Video of the 1958 Commonwealth Games held at Cardiff, Wales (UK)
(Look out for fencing competition – England v.s. HK between 18:30-18:58)

Photos of 1958 Commonwealth Games Fencing Competition:

Photos of Peter Lee and Bruce Lee:

Peter’s personal affairs

Eunice Lam Yen-Ni
In May 1959, Bruce reached San Franscisco. Peter joined Bruce in Seattle for a short stay before moving on to Minnesota to attend college. Peter finally graduated from the University of Minnesota. He returned to HK and later married his girlfriend, Eunice Lam Yan-Ni in 1966. Eunice was only 21 years old then. A year later, she gave birth to a son, Lee Kai-Ho (cousin of Brandon Lee Kwok-Ho and Shannon Lee Heong-Neng). Peter worked as the Assistant Director for HK Royal Observatory. The happy marriage only lasted about 7 years and when their son was only 6 years old, they divorced due to conflict in values and personality clashes. Years later after Peter’s passing, Eunice recalled that knowing Peter was the happiest time of her life. She was only 17 years old then and had just enrolled into the university. Unlike his younger brother Bruce, Peter was more matured, humble, low profile and was able to give her a sense of security. Although their marriage was unsuccessful eventually, they remained good friends throughout their life. Peter obtained their son’s custody and after he migrated to Australia, they had communicated lesser. Eunice who was a graduate from University of California-Berkeley, is a famous writer, TV host, DJ and pageant judge in HK.

Mary Cheung Ma-Li
Peter who had earlier obtained his doctorate degree, met and later married Mary Cheung Ma-Li (1952 - ), a model, actress and Miss Hong Kong 1975 Champion on 2nd Feb 1980. Though Peter was a scholar and had some reputation in his field of science but as compared to his younger brother Bruce, his fame was relatively much smaller. Mary Cheung was a mixed blood, 3/4 Chinese and ¼ English. Her ancestry province was in Suzhou but her lineage was English as her paternal grandmother was an English lady. Mary had a pitiful childhood. She was abandoned when she was a child and became a vagrant on the street for some years before she was given shelter in PLK (Po Leung Kuk aka Society for the Protection of Women and Children in HK) at about 9 years old. After marrying Peter, Mary gradually retired from the entertainment industry and became a virtuous wife and good mother. She gave birth to a son, Lee Wai-Ho in 1981 and a daughter, Lee Yuk-Yee in 1984. Peter’s second marriage lasted only 15 years and in 1995 he divorced Mary. Subsequently, Peter immigrated to Australia with his children. Before and after divorce, Mary contributed much of her time in social work and charity projects. She won herself the “HK 10 Outstanding Youth Award” in 1988. Her son, Lee Wai-Ho became the Professor in the University of Melbourne after his graduation there while her daughter, Lee Yuk-Yee studied and graduated with a Master degree from the same university as her brother.

Death of the HK Fencing Legend
While Beijing’s Olympic began on 8 Aug 2008, “The Legend of Bruce Lee,” a Chinese TV series was also broadcasting in mainland China at the same time, to commemorate Bruce’s 35th death anniversary. Bruce’s siblings were pleased with the worldwide celebrations in honor of their brother but unfortunately, Peter Lee passed away in early September that same year. Peter Lee’s ex-wife, Eunice Lam said on 3rd Sep 2008, she received a call from her son Kai-Ho saying that his younger brother Wai-Ho had informed him few hours ago, Peter Lee who was watching TV program at home (in Melbourne) as usual was discovered later to have no sign of breathing and Wai-Ho believed his father had passed away suddenly due to heart attack. Eunice Lam had asked Kai-Ho to go to Australia and helped his brother Wai-Ho to take care of his father’s funeral and then to bring his father’s ashes back to HK. Like his brother, Bruce Lee the King of Kung Fu, Peter Lee, the King of Fencing would always be remembered for his contribution to the fencing development in La Salle and HK. R.I.P.

Photos of Peter Lee and his family:

 Respond to this message   

  • Bruce Lee’s JKD & Fencing Connections - LJF on Aug 29, 2015, 5:33 AM
  • Re: HK Colony Fencing Champion In 1958 - JKD54 on Aug 29, 2015, 8:48 AM
  • Great stuff. Thanks! (nt) - Milo on Aug 29, 2015, 11:22 AM
    Find more forums on Asian CelebritiesCreate your own forum at Network54
     Copyright © 1999-2018 Network54. All rights reserved.   Terms of Use   Privacy Statement