• Hands of Stone

Hands of Stone

Alexander Ng prepares for Fight Night

In the 1976 Academy Award-winning film, “Rocky,” the title character, Philadelphian Rocky Balboa, rises before the light of dawn, cracks half a dozen raw eggs into a glass, and guzzles the heavy, viscous, liquid, yoke dripping down the side of his chin in preparation for an epic battle with the world heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed.

On April 6, Alexander Ng will step in the ring at the Palestra, for Fight Night, a three-two-minute round boxing match that pits Penn students against Wharton students. Ng’s matchup pits him against Wharton’s David “Godzilla” Lin.

As Alex prepares for his match and my obsession with “Rocky,” we asked the Queens, New York, native a few questions about his quest, training, goals, and how engineering fits into the scheme of things.

What inspired you to participate in a boxing tournament for charity, considering your background in engineering? 

I’ve always loved boxing and when I saw that I could participate in an inter-school charity event while doing something I loved, I jumped at the chance. Also, I get to beat up Wharton students. It’s akin to me doing my PhD research, as I spend some free time watching boxing footage and picking up techniques. 

How do you balance your rigorous engineering studies with the intense training required for boxing? 

“Just do it bro” is what I tell myself when I am trying to find time to balance my research workload with boxing training. I know there will never be enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do, so I try my best to prioritize and manage my schedule.

Have you encountered any challenges in transitioning from the academics of engineering to the physical demands of training to box? 

Honestly, I was fat before I started training. The belly was big and round. Now I traded the belly for hands of stone.

Which boxers do you admire? 

I admire Manny Pacquiao and Mike Tyson because they’re little guys like me fighting big guys.

What’s your boxing style?

Get in close and light them up!!

Rocky complained his legs weren’t working before his fight with Creed. How are you feeling?

My legs are working great. I’m ready to rumble.

What is your favorite boxing movie? 

It’s “Cinderella Man.” I remember liking it as a kid. I guess it’s time for a rewatch.

For filmgoers, most soundtracks have these awesome instrumentals to motivate them. What are your top five jams to get you psyched and ready to rumble?

  • Lose Yourself- Eminem
  • The Real Slim Shady- Eminem
  • Going Back to Cali (2014 Remaster)- The Notorious B.I.G.
  • Eye of the Tiger- Survivor
  • X Gon’ Give It To Ya- DMX

What specific training methods or techniques have you found most beneficial in preparing for the tournament? 

I found that following DDR videos but corresponding the arrows to head movements has helped me improve my slipping, significantly.

Can you discuss any parallels you see between problem-solving in engineering and strategizing in boxing?

I have to do research ahead of time to be the most successful in the match.

How do you intend to leverage your participation in this charity boxing tournament to raise awareness or support for important engineering-related causes?

I think at the moment it’s hard for me to draw direct connections, but I know that this experience will allow me to represent the School of Engineering at Penn with a (hopeful) boxing victory!

 In what ways has participating in boxing impacted your perspective on discipline, perseverance, and goal-setting, especially as an engineering student?

As an engineer, it is important to put theory into practice. Through the training for the fight, I am able to work hard toward the goal of winning my fight!

What advice would you give to other engineering students who may be interested in participating in similar charity sporting events? 

The best advice I can give is “Just go for it”. You never know if you like it unless you give it a try. There are other engineering students in the department, like my friend Katie Sun, who is participating in other athletic events for charity and we cross-train. The best support SEAS can give us is funding to continue students’ athletic/charity endeavors! 

How do you plan to apply the lessons learned from boxing, such as resilience and adaptability, to your future engineering endeavors?

In reality, I do boxing to escape from the mental chaos of my PhD. I like to keep engineering work separate from athletic boxing, but I have learned that when I am down I have to get back up!

Since you mentioned that you’re getting rock hard, body-wise, have you ever downed half a dozen raw eggs for training purposes? 

Nope, and I don’t want to.

Have you run the Philadelphia Museum steps?

Of course I have!