Exit the Dragon: Bruce Lee’s Kowloon Tong home demolished

The master at work. Screengrab via YouTube.
The master at work. Screengrab via YouTube.

It’s a sad day for kung fu fighting fans, who found out that superstar Bruce Lee’s home was demolished today.

A local Bruce Lee fan club confirmed that it was notified by the owner of the Kowloon Tong home the performer bought several years prior to his untimely death. The club, which changed its Facebook photo to black in mourning, said it was “deeply disappointed” by the news.

Speaking to On.cc outside the premises, fan club chairman Wong Yiu-keung said they had lobbied the authorities and the home’s owners since 2008 to have it converted into a heritage center and museum for Lee.

“Everyone can see clearly that Lee’s old home is now gone, Bruce Lee is someone who contributed a lot to Hong Kong and to the city’s collective memory, and that wasn’t valued, I’m disappointed and angry,” Wong said.

In November, it was reported that the two-story home on 41 Cumberland Road would be transformed into a Chinese cultural studies center that would offer classes in Mandarin, and possibly martial arts lessons in the future.

The outside of Bruce Lee's house in Kowloon Tong. Picture: Google.
The outside of Bruce Lee’s house in Kowloon Tong. Picture: Google.

The owners of the home, the Yu Panglin Charitable Trust, had originally planned to keep the building intact. But an engineering consultant found structural problems made maintaining the building unfeasible, according to an HK01 report from July.

The outlet said that the building had fallen into disrepair and recommended it be torn down and rebuilt for reasons of safety and cost – and so the cultural studies center could open next year as planned.

The kung fu film superstar, who also taught martial arts, was born in the United States and lived in Hong Kong as a child before returning to America at 18. He lived in the Kowloon Tong mansion with his family in the years before his early death in 1973 at 32.

Shortly after his death, Lee’s home was purchased by billionaire philanthropist Yu Pang-lin for HK$1 million (US$128,000). Yu died in 2015, and the home is now owned by a trust. The sole trustee is Yu’s grandson, Pang Chi-ping.

Plans to sell it a decade ago to raise money for victims of the Sichuan earthquake were abandoned after fans urged Pang to preserve and restore the building which was then being used as a short-stay love hotel.

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