Alex Gong, a world champion kickboxer, was murdered in San Francisco on Aug. 1. He was 32.
Gong was working out at the training gym he owned when he saw a dark green Jeep Cherokee hit his car and drive off. Still wearing his boxing gloves, Gong pursued the Jeep on foot. He caught up to the Jeep when it stopped at a traffic light; the driver then shot him in the chest and sped away. After a 12-hour stand-off with police, Rodger Wayne Chastain, the man who claimed to be Gong’s killer, committed suicide.
Gong was born in New England. He spent a brief time at an orphanage in India, then was reunited with his mother and transplanted to California. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in business, Gong started studying karate, judo and tae kwon do.
In 1994, Gong discovered Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing. He took up the sport and eventually won several championships in the middleweight and welterweight classes. A dedicated competitor, Gong headlined fights at the MGM Grand and the Mirage in Las Vegas, and appeared on ESPN, HBO and the CBS TV show, “Walker, Texas Ranger” with Chuck Norris.
“Muay Thai kind of fits into the psyche of Americans, you know, like it has quick results and action and quick attention-getting scoring. And combat is about as real as sports get. When you have unlimited combat with class, rules, sophistication and actual talent, I think there is a true appreciation for that,” Gong once said.
Gong opened the San Francisco branch of the Fairtex Combat Sports Camp in 1996. It became the nation’s top Muay Thai training facility and the only one recognized by the World Muay Thai Council.