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Chinese MMA promotion Chin Woo Men under investigation for financial crimes

The rising MMA promotion’s parent company is accused by Chinese regulators of ‘illegally absorbing public deposits’.

2017 Guangzhou International Light Festival
Guangzhou, China, home of Chin Woo Men’s parent company Guangzhou Elephant Health Technology Co.
Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Chin Woo Men (sometimes referred to as Jing Wu Men) is a popular Chinese MMA promotion based in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. Since late 2016 CWM has hosted nine events in China, mostly in Guangdong, but also in Henan Province. CWM’s most recent card, in July 2018, included four fights with veterans from organizations such as Jungle Fight and Road FC.

Lee Li of writes that since being founded in 2016 CWM has received a lot of recognition in China, which is currently witnessing an uneasy boom in mixed martial arts. The sport has dramatically grown in popularity over recent years, but is yet to receive serious mainstream attention or any kind of endorsement from China’s government.

In light of that uneasy relationship, AsiaMMA reported last week that Chinese MMA – and specifically CWM – has suffered a serious hit to their reputation. The Guangzhou Municipal Public Safety Bureau has opened an investigation into CWM’s parent company Guangzhou Elephant Health Technology Co. (GEHTC).

Along with operating CWM, GEHTC owns Health Mall – a sports e-commerce platform that provides software to sports coaches and manages sports event intellectual property (per China Money Network).

GETHC’s CEO Yang Huali has been arrested along with nine other executives from the company after accusations of “illegally absorbing public deposits.” AsiaMMA describes those charges as:

...companies “engaged in financial credit business not approved by The People’s Bank of China; illegally absorbing public deposits for the purpose to lend the funds for profit; or a legally established financial institution raising or lowering the interest rate of deposits in violation of commercial bank law and relevant laws and regulations in absorbing deposits”.

Chinese outlet EcoSports states that individuals from the sports and sports education industry who invested tens of billions of yuan in GEHTC have formed WeChat groups where they accuse the company of defrauding them.

AsiaMMA’s Li opined that the scandal may have repercussions for MMA in China, writing: “The incidence of alleged mishandled financing will likely increase the scrutiny under which the sport further develops.” This incident, which may have seen hundreds of individuals lose money to an MMA promoter, is not the first scandal that has threatened MMA’s shot at widespread appeal in China.

Last year Chengdu’s En Bo Fight Club made international news when the club’s mysterious owner En Bo went public on his claims that he has ‘adopted’ hundreds of orphans and trained them to be fighters. Former TUF contestant Jeremy May was one of En Bo’s instructors, he spoke to Bloody Elbow about his experience training orphans last year. The local government stated that En Bo’s adoptions were illegal and removed a number of children from the gym so they could attend public schools.

Also marring MMA’s reputation are the controversial activities of Beijing based MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong. Xu, aka ‘Mad Dog’, has gone viral over the past year by beating up Wing Chun and Tai Chi masters, much to the chagrin of traditional Chinese martial arts enthusiasts (and maybe the government).