For a sport, 20 years, although not long enough, is enough for it to go through the whole process from rise to depression to revival, such as billiards. Inadvertently, in China, this sport known as "elegance" and "gentleman" has a history of 20 years.
Nowadays, billiards has become one of the most popular and attended sports in China. Statistics from relevant departments show that at present, more than 50 million people have played billiards in China, 25 million people often play billiards, and 500 to 1 million people play billiards every day. It can be said that the popularity of billiards even exceeds that of China’s national table tennis.
20Century 80age The Enlightenment of Billiards in China
It can be said that in the 1980s, an enlightenment movement about billiards made more Chinese people see a gentleman’s sport that has been popular abroad for hundreds of years. As a by-product, the Enlightenment also created a wealth myth.
In 1980s, billiards, once regarded as the representative of decadent bourgeois life, quietly rose in China. In fact, as early as a few decades ago, billiards had entered China, but at that time, it was advertised as an "aristocratic movement", which was out of reach of ordinary people. This time, with the reform and opening up and the remarkable improvement of people’s living standards, billiards has spread in China at an alarming rate. People can often see the scene that two benches set up a table to become a pool table, and a group of men and women are playing around.
In 1986, China Billiards Association came into being. After that, local Taiwan associations were established one after another. Some people say that the establishment of the "official organization" indicates that billiards is no longer just a mass entertainment activity in China, but has been included in the annual national sports competition plan as a competitive sport. For a time, billiards seemed to be a social phenomenon. In 1987, an article called Billiards Popular was published in Wuhan Daily. According to the conclusion in this paper, China people have solved the problem of food and clothing, and then they will start to have entertainment needs, and billiards will have a reason to be popular. After reading the article, many people smiled and didn’t care, but a young man named Gan Lianfang regarded it as a big event.
When it comes to billiards in China, we can’t help but talk about Gan Lianfang. People are more accustomed to calling him the "King of China Billiards", which is full of heroism and domineering, but it is also very appropriate-in the past 20 years, Gan Lianfang and his "Star Card" have witnessed the billiards of China yesterday and today. No one would have imagined that a road builder had created the popularity of "elegant" and "gentleman" billiards in China. In fact, perhaps that sentence has been fulfilled, and many accidents in life are inevitable results.
Twenty years ago, Gan Lianfang took out his savings of 8,000 yuan, vacated his own outhouse as a factory building, and set up Beijing Daxing Billiards Factory with several functions as director, purchasing, sales, accounting and cashier. Looking at the pictures in the magazine, he began to "develop" billiards equipment according to the cat’s description. "We use electrostatic combing tweed instead of the table, use the inner tube of the car as the rebound rubber edge, and let the carpenter plane the board to make the table top and wooden legs." More than three months later, the first billiard table was born. Gan Lianfang, a carpenter, gave his billiards table a resounding name-"Star Card". "Production of five units a day, a day’s profit is more than two thousand pieces. At that time, it was already very profitable. " It can be said that billiards made Gan Lianfang see the possibility of getting rich. So, he quit his job of bringing home the bacon and started a pool table wholeheartedly. In the first year, Gan Lianfang earned 100,000 yuan; In the second year, he earned 500,000 yuan.
A rather subtle scene appeared. The "Star" billiards table, which costs less than 350 yuan, is placed in the streets and lanes, and most of the players are young people with bare arms. Because of this, some people say that billiards, a gentleman’s sport, has gone bad in China. "But it also has an advantage. If billiards are only placed in five-star hotels from the beginning, China people will never know what billiards are." In the eyes of outsiders, as the head of the "Star Brand", Gan Lianfang’s words inevitably smack of self-defense. However, if we look closely at the development track of billiards in China, people have to face up to the significance of Gan Lianfang and "Star Brand" to billiards in China.
"’Star Brand’ caught up with the first wave of billiards popularity in China." A few years later, sitting in a hotel invested and built by his own company, Gan Lianfang analyzed this. Today, he has several titles: Chairman of Beijing Star Brand Group, Chairman of Beijing Longxi Hot Spring Hotel, Chairman of Beijing Longxi Hot Spring Golf Club, Chairman of Beijing Longxi Real Estate Development Co., Ltd., Chairman of Beijing Longxi Shunjing Real Estate Development Co., Ltd., etc. From the asset point of view, "Star Brand" is only a small household, but on Gan Lianfang’s business card, the status of "Chairman of Star Brand Group" is always ranked first. In the words of Gan Lianfang: "My original capital accumulation, my popularity, my brand, my value-added status, and all my success come from billiards."
20Century 90age The first climax of billiards in China.
By the 1990s, people were no longer satisfied with the relatively simple bag-dropping style (15 balls), and more and more "billiards fans" began to like the more technical snooker style.
In 1990, Gan Lianfang tried to advertise in Beijing Evening News, but the result was rejected-the other party didn’t pay attention to this individual billiards company. Can’t direct publicity, Gan Lianfang can only think of other ways. Hearing that a celebrity billiards match will be held in Beijing, he immediately took out 50,000 yuan to sponsor the event. At that time, 50,000 yuan was half of the annual profit of Star Brand. As a result, the celebrity billiards competition has attracted the attention of all parties, and even appeared on CCTV’s News Network. Since then, "Star Brand" has become famous in one fell swoop.
Also from that year on, national events around billiards emerged in an endless stream, and there were countless local events. In addition to the National Snooker Classic, which began in 1990, the international snooker competition in China has also experienced a process of growing from scratch. From 1988 to 1992, the Chinese Billiards Association held five consecutive "Jianpai Cup" international snooker competition with the participation of the world’s best professional billiards players. In 1993, the 10th Asian Snooker Championship was held in Beijing. On that occasion, Gan Lianfang invested 550,000 yuan to win the naming rights of the competition. In 1996, Guangzhou successfully hosted the 13th Asian Billiards Championship and the International Professional Snooker Invitational Tournament. Also in this year, the Chinese billiards association began to implement the registration system for billiards players. In January of that year, the first professional billiards club in China-"Star Brand" professional billiards club was established, which opened the river of billiards professionalization in China. Famous players such as Pang Weiguo, kasim and Tao Shan joined the "Star Brand" and became the first qualified players in China.
What is particularly worth mentioning is that in 1998, Gan Lianfang and Red Bull Company held the Red Bull Cup China Challenge, which consisted of six races with a total investment of 4 million yuan, and three generations of champions Davis, Hendry and Higgins appeared together. Speaking of that tournament, Gan Lianfang was very proud: "In 1993, a Hong Kong company held a billiards match in Beijing, and both Davis and Hendry came. But at that time, we didn’t have the strength and couldn’t afford others, so we had to take advantage of the situation, such as giving them some small gifts to use the’ Star’ billiards table during practice. Later, we didn’t have to take advantage of the situation, we did it ourselves. I was a major participant in the Red Bull Cup in 1998, from planning to negotiating with the International Federation of Taiwan. " From "borrowing others’ potential" to "creating your own potential", the fate of "Star Card" seems to be the epitome of China billiards.
In fact, the development of "Star Brand" is not always smooth. In 1991, Gan Lianfang made an important decision to invest in the production of "Star" high-grade billiard tables. "At that time, it would cost 8,000 to 10,000 yuan to produce a high-grade billiard table. If it was not done well, it would be in your hand." People around me are strongly opposed. However, Gan Lianfang has no hesitation. "This is not so much a decision, but rather a gamble with all my family, which is soaked with my sweat, tears and even blood." Facts have proved that Gan Lianfang won this "gambling". In the 1990s, the sales of Star Brand trotted up: 1.6 million yuan, 4 million yuan and 10 million yuan. In 1994, it achieved sales of 50 million yuan, and the domestic market share reached 40%. Gan Lianfang has since become a well-deserved billiards king in China. After the rapid expansion in the early and middle 1990s, "Star Brand" has now entered a period of steady development. Today, "Star Brand" has been firmly holding this "King" hat in its hands.
21century The Spring of Billiards in China
The star effect can promote the vigorous development of the project, which has been repeatedly proved in China sports: Liu Xiang is to track and field, Yao Ming is to basketball, and Ding Junhui is to billiards … Without Ding Junhui’s success, billiards would only be a hobby of many children. After Ding Junhui became famous, many Chinese people were surprised to find that billiards can also change their fate!
In the 21st century, billiards in China has fallen into a low ebb-athletes’ poor performance, fewer sponsors, failure to hold big competitions, and the billiards equipment market in China has also shown signs of decline. "Where is the spring of China billiards?" Many people are deeply worried about this issue, but Gan Lianfang is full of confidence. He has never given up his insistence on billiards. He even signed a contract with the relevant departments of the State Sports General Administration to hold a competition at his own expense. In his words, "Don’t let billiards break."
In April 2005, Ding Junhui, who was only 18 years old, defeated Haendly, the world’s "billiards emperor", becoming the first champion in China to win the professional snooker ranking tournament. At the celebration dinner, when Gan Lianfang gave Ding Junhui the 50,000-dollar gold medal, the whole audience was in an uproar, because the amount of the prize money exceeded the number of the prize money of the open champion-the eyes of the Chinese people once again gathered on billiards, and the "billiards fever" rose accordingly. At this time, many people noticed that Ding Junhui, a "billiards prodigy", also had an identity-a signing player of Star Brand Group. This time, people have to admire Gan Lianfang’s foresight.
In fact, since the mid-1990s, players who have won the national billiards championship, such as Pang Weiguo, Tao Shan, kasim and others, are mostly signed by Star Brand Group. When Ding Junhui won the billiards championship in the 2002 Asian Games, Gan Lianfang "stared" at him-not only persuaded Ding Junhui to sign a contract with Star Brand, but also recognized him as his adopted son. For some gossip, Gan Lianfang is also confident: "Xiaoding is now the undisputed overlord of China billiards, just like Xingpai billiards brand. We are a strong alliance of first-class enterprises and first-class athletes. In the future, we will continue to train more outstanding players for the country. " Although an entrepreneur, Gan Lianfang made it clear that he didn’t want to earn a penny from Ding Junhui: "Ding Junhui won the championship, but I don’t have any requirements for him in business. We don’t want any of his advertising fees. We just contribute to cultivating talents for the country."
In fact, the development of billiards in China just needs this enthusiasm and devotion.
People in table tennis circles believe that table tennis has the highest penetration rate, while people in billiards circles have different views. In their view, the mass base of billiards is no less than football and basketball: "From the perspective of government investment, billiards is indeed a marginal project. But from the perspective of social attention, billiards is not marginal at all. It is estimated that tens of millions of people in China are playing billiards every day. There are now 400 golf clubs in Shanghai, each with an average of 15 tables, with an average of 200 guests every day and 80,000 people playing ball every day. There are 500 to 700 gymnasiums with more than 15 tables in Beijing; Billiards in Guangdong developed the earliest. There are more than 300 ball rooms in Dongguan and more than 400,000 people in Foshan, but there are also 30 ball rooms. " With more people playing, the level of amateur billiards has improved rapidly, which is the base of China Billiards Pyramid.
Fortunately, everything is going well. Before Ding Junhui became famous, billiards competitions were only sponsored by billiards equipment manufacturers, but with the arrival of brilliant achievements, Ding Junhui was favored by dairy companies and Liang Wenbo was also sponsored by mobile phone companies.
What should China billiards be like in the future? Some people say that billiards should develop in the direction of professionalism and marketization, and professional events should realize market-oriented operation within 8 to 10 years. In any case, Gan Lianfang’s goal is clear. This entrepreneur, who takes the development of China billiards as his own responsibility, is busy planning a new goal-to cooperate with international stations to organize the events in China, and regard this as a new stage of the development of "Star" billiards.
Editor: Shuo Yang