Time has allowed the world to piece together much of the puzzle that was Bruce Lee’s life but still there are degrees of both myth and of mystery that surround the man.
Included among those is the tale of a fellow Hongkonger named Gary Elms and his own brush with Lee and his fame, before that fame even really had a name.
On March 29, 1958 inside the gymnasium at Hong Kong’s St. George’s School, Elms faced off against Lee as he tried to defend his Inter-School Individual Boxing Championship crown. The 18-year-old Lee took the bout on points – decisively – against his 17-year-old opponent and it would prove to be the only official fight Hong Kong’s “Little Dragon” ever had.
That alone is a remarkable fact given Lee’s rise to fame and fortune was built on his reputation as a fighter, and for decades afterwards there was even dispute about whether the bout even took place.
But slowly, over the years, more facts have been unearthed and now a full picture can be painted not only of the fight itself but of the mysterious young man who stood across the ring from Lee long before he became a legend.
“I think anyone who met Gary will tell you he was a unique individual,” recalls his sister Lorraine Barclay.
Elms passed away on January 1, 2018 and he took all memories of the fight with Lee with him. Members of the Elms clan say Gary Elms was never really known to have shared the experience or even reflected on how he might have watched Lee’s rise from Hong Kong to Hollywood.
“Gary wasn’t much for going over the past,” explains Barclay.