One of Jenny Huang’s personal goals is to empower women all throughout Asia, and encourage them to chase after their dreams. While her life’s story is a testament to that, her pre-fight entrance appearance serves more as a silent nod.
The past few times the 26-year-old entered the arena to compete for ONE Championship, she emerged onto the stage wearing a traditional cheongsam.
That particular Chinese style of clothing is a form-fitting one-piece that eventually became one of China’s national dresses in the 1920s. Those who wear the outfit are known to possess, as Huang puts it, “classic beauty, activity, and a powerful personality.”
Also, in addition to being iconic in the country’s history, the fashion statement serves as a symbol for gender equality.
“When I wear my Chinese-style dress, I feel proud of Chinese traditional culture every time. The most important thing is that everyone who sees me wear it knows where I come from,” she states.
“I want to show this personality for all females — so that no matter what they fight for in their life, they will never forget to keep their beauty, be strong, and never back down to adversity.”
Those dresses have made Huang very recognizable. But when she premiered the look nearly a year ago, she did not exactly receive the reaction she was hoping for.
In September 2015, at ONE: UNBREAKABLE WARRIORS in Malaysia, the atomweight entered Kuala Lumpur’s Stadium Negara wearing a blue cheongsam, and displayed some fierce shadowboxing, looking quite similar to Capcom’s popular Street Fighter character Chun-Li.
Although that became a highlight-reel moment in her career, Huang’s intention was not to impersonate the video game franchise’s heroine.
“I just wanted to show people Chinese culture outfits, but now people call me Chun-Li. I think she is cool, and I wish to fight like her, but I wish people would recognize the Jenny Huang style,” she explains. “I really like Chun-Li, but I want to do more than just cosplay, or role play and be like a video game.”
While Huang views it as a compliment, she did not want to be known as a video game imitation, and in the months to follow, she made a concerted effort to distance herself from the character.
For instance, when “Lady Gogo” competed at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION against April Osenio this past December, she wore a red cheongsam with a gold and silver design. Just one month later, at the press conference to promote her big title bout against ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM in Thailand, she rocked a black version.
The former title contender’s powerful story of accomplishing her martial arts goals, despite a lack of emotional support from her parents, has turned Huang into an important leader in the women’s martial arts movement in Asia. She both dresses, and acts, the part.
Huang is currently preparing with other talented female athletes for her upcoming bout against Mei Yamaguchi at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION on Friday, 30 June, and she will confidently sport another cheongsam when she steps into the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
At one point, she may have dressed to impress. Now, she is dressing to inspire.
“I hope people know I am a confident and strong female,” she says. “I will lead every female to overcome their negative emotions, and let people know martial arts doesn’t only mean fighting.
“When talking about dreams and passion, it also means to go hard for your dreams. Be proud of all female fighters who chase their dreams in the cage.”