Italian veteran reporter still obsessed with table tennis
As a retired writer from the most famous Italian sports paper, La Gazetta dello Sport, 63-year-old Gennaro Bozza has come to China for the 64th time to pay the table tennis events here at the Chinese National Games.
Following 27 years working for La Gazetta, Bozza exceeds some veteran Chinese citizens in terms of his understanding of the game and the Chinese group.
"2 decades back, I retired from my newspaper. Even if I do not write, I come and I watch because I like it. That's the most important thing," said Bozza, who has never missed a single Chinese national championship since 1997 and has covered all the world championships since 1989.
"Even though nobody cares about it, I come. I am giving the photographs to my friend to post onto a website. I am offering the photos to ITTF to post on website. All free of charge. If anybody wants articles, I compose. Newspapers, occasionally Chinese papers will ask me to get a report. I write in English, then they translate it into Chinese," said the Italian.
For nearly all of his travels to attend table tennis events in China and other places, Bozza has to pay for the accommodation himself. "My boss didn't care about table tennis and would pay nothing for my journeys," Bozza said looking back on his days in La Gazetta dello Sport.
"Consistently I pay in my own except for 3 occasions when my newspaper covered my expenses. I'v covered all the world championships since 1989. In world championships, I can print reports in my paper, but I need to cover all the expenses. Since the newspaper doesn't take care of table tennis, if you want to go, you pay yourself, then you write the article, my supervisor is only going to pay the article," he explained.
Bozza also boasts his collections of photographs of Chinese players.
"Back to 2002 Chinese domestic championships, I shot photographs of all the 250 newcomers one of the 550 players, everybody! After the tournament shut, I found my legs had been swollen," said Bozza. "That's the first time that I saw Ma Long (men's world No. 1 and Grand Slam winner) and Ding Ning (women's world No. 1 and Grand Slam winner). I've every Chinese player's images since 1997 national championships. I guess totally it is about 8,000 players," he added.
Bozza has decorated his home like a mini Chinese museum and his collections vary from Chinese drawings, Peking Opera facial masks to small-sized Terra-Cotta Warriors, Chinese dolls and porcelains. Chinese styled gadgets and ornaments are all around his chambers ping pong tables
Among all his things, he values two cups and a trophy the most because they were given to him Zhang Yining, two-time women's singles Olympic winner. "These 2 cups are from Zhang Yining in the Croatia Open. It is 2005 or 2006, 1 time she won the gold and the other time she won the silver. This gold medal from the national championships in Zhenjiang in 2003, she won the gold and she gave me it," Bozza said, pointing to a picture shot in his home.
"I've known Zhang since 1997, for 20 years. I saw her in Tianjin in the qualifications of the National Games, so I took photos, but we did not meet and we did not talk. When she is in the closing in Jiading, Shanghai, at the National Games, I talked to her for the very first time," he remembered.
Bozza, a graduate in engineering, has found his true love not in his chosen academic field but on the table tennis court. This is how he explains his great devotion to the sport and into the Chinese team.
Bozza's love for table tennis originated out of his experience as a participant. In his words, he's a "serious" player, not only hobbiest. "I played table tennis once I was very young, in 14, in Italy, but I was not a fantastic player, not good enough for national staff. As a hobby? No, I played table tennis seriously, although not professionaly naturally, I played with nationwide leagues and tournaments in the 1970s in Italy," he remembered.
"I'm not a dumb player, but not in the level of a national team. I had played about ten decades, I quit when I started college and other things, it's impossible to continue in Italy, I simply followed up to watch the championships and games," explained Bozza.
He also noted that his hobby of after table tennis has been a costly one, but said it had been worthwhile.
"For me, table tennis is No. 1, more than football. I don't understand just how much I've spent so far in covering table tennis tournaments. I believe the previous two years from my retirement, I invest another 20,000 euros. Going back all these years since 1989, I believe the total amounts to 230,000-250,000 euros, largely (spent) on traveling to China."
Bozza now lives on his retirement, which is about 45,000 euros per year, so he could continue to encourage his loyalty to table tennis.
Edited by davestephans, 12 January 2018 - 02:13 PM.