3rd December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Amid the fanfare surrounding Hong Kong social media figure Derek Cheung’s upcoming We Are Champs 2023 boxing event, a darker purpose lies beneath the spectacle. By leveraging cash prizes to lure downtrodden pseudo-celebrities into choreographed combat, Cheung callously profits from exploiting society’s most vulnerable. His event epitomises greed over compassion, using violence and public shaming for personal gain.

The exploitative boxing spectacle of We Are Champs bears disturbing parallels to the fictional death games in Netflix’s dystopian thriller Squid Game. Just as Squid Game’s cash-strapped contestants faced lethal children’s games for a monetary prize, Cheung callously recruits desperate pseudo-celebrities to battle for a cash payout. Though less deadly, his events generate proliferating viewership from choreographed violence featuring outcasts with limited options. Like Squid Game’s cynical orchestrators, Cheung ruthlessly commodifies human turmoil into lucrative entertainment. His events highlight how readily reality can mimic the most unscrupulous fiction when greed supersedes morality. The only difference is the pretence of consent from combatants too encumbered by circumstances to refuse participation.

A Troubling Lineup

One need only examine the matchup between Dragonheart and the now-detained Carriage Lau to grasp the depths of Cheung’s manipulation. Dragonheart (Lam Hak-lam) faced election fraud charges that threatened his boxing payday and mobility. Carriage Lau’s indecent assault scandal terminated his social media career, leaving him ripe for Cheung’s manipulative fight proposal. Both exhibit the limited options for social outcasts, whom Cheung specifically targets knowing they cannot refuse his purse or publicity despite risks. As long as sufficient public scorn and legal problems render someone unable to make a legitimate living, Cheung swoops in to profit off their desperation. The huge sums he promises provide lifelines to those with ruined reputations. Rather than empowerment, this represents exploitation of the vulnerable – blood money payments for participating in their own humiliation.

Their matchup felt less sporting than a profoundly unethical transaction. For those with nothing left to lose, refusal of Cheung’s prize purse was likely impossible, even as the physical peril and public ridicule mounted. His events prey on those whose circumstances won’t allow them to walk away, rather than engaging autonomous athletes competing on a level playing field for glory.

The case of actor Roy Chow further exemplifies the predatory nature of Cheung’s events. Chow was facing charges for assaulting police when Cheung extended an invitation to join We Are Champs. In dire financial and legal straits, Chow accepted the risky offer, later receiving a two-week prison sentence. Like Carriage Lau and Dragonheart, Chow’s participation highlights how the downtrodden are most vulnerable to Cheung’s manipulative recruitment. When society dispenses punishment and stigma, unscrupulous figures like Cheung offer backdoors – but at a demoralising price. Chow serves as another cautionary tale of how the desperate can be exploited by those possessing means and hungry for more fame.

The Stark Truth About Society’s Outcasts

Wrestling publically with their fall from grace appears the only recourse left for Cheung’s exploited combatants to redeem lost status and cash in on leftover notoriety. Their participation reveals the limited options faced by those who breach social norms and pay a lasting price. Yet their willing exploitation by Cheung for entertainment and ratings renders them victims as well.

These desperate fighters exemplify how punishing social stigmatisation leaves exiles grasping at any lifeline to regain lost standing. Once ostracised, they become vulnerable to whatever deal is offered, not unlike coerced fighting for survival in dystopian movies like The Hunger Games. Any exit from destitution appears a relief.

However, Cheung’s profiteering from this desperation is morally indefensible. He provides not opportunity but manipulation, and his casting the downtrodden as freakshow entertainment for the masses only tightens their social incarceration. They battle in his ring not for honour but further humiliation.

No Pride, Only Predation

Make no mistake – Cheung’s chief goal is to produce a sensationalistic spectacle to feed his online celebrity. The more tattered and troubled his fighters’ lives become, the more viewership their humiliation yields, and the more he prospers. Their participation bestows a carnival of disposability under the laughable guise of “sport.”

Rather than restore any dignity, Cheung’s star-studded events intend only to wring out more dollars and clicks off washed-up combatants. His We Are Champs promotion boasts lofty branding, but represents bald exploitation behind the curtain. Any talk of opportunity rings hollow when the participants exhibit little choice.

His recurring sideshow signals the need for regulation. No ethical league would permit such blatant exploitation. But shadowy fame merchants like Cheung will act as long as they evade oversight, producing tawdry spectacles from those barely surviving on society’s margins. If the government will not intervene, consumers must reject his bread and circuses.

What makes Cheung’s profiteering even more reprehensible is his own life of privilege. As the son of a billionaire real estate tycoon, he was born into opulence worlds apart from his exploited fighters’ hardship. The vast family fortune that funded his rise as an internet figure rendered pursuing such seedy spectacles unnecessary from the start. Unlike his desperate combatants, Cheung enjoyed ample advantage and respectable options. His choice to demean others for profit and attention solely reflects personal greed and ambition, not need. That is what distinguishes exploitation from opportunity – the power dynamics between the exploiter and exploited. Cheung’s predatory events specifically target those deprived of advantages he readily possessed.

The Truth About “We Are Champs”

Scratch the shiny facade of Mr. Cheung’s “inspiring” event, and its rotten essence emerges. We Are Champs reveals nothing sporting or heroic. It is a profiteering meat grinder, using human fodder already sacrificed by society. Any virtue is imaginary when the man behind the curtain admits he would “accept criminals, including rape criminals” if suitably notorious. His callousness exposes the ruse – he sees only clickbait, not people. Their turmoil fuels his vanity and wealth. Enriching oneself off outcasts’ desperation warrants only disgust. We Are Champs is not an opportunity but commodifying pain for those with nowhere to turn. If Cheung possessed any scruples, he would halt this charade immediately. Sadly his ilk will continue profiting from trauma as long as a market exists.

Consumers enable this cycle through morbid curiosity in others’ misery. Our clicks feed its engine. Only renouncing such exploitative spectacles can end the victimisation. If Cheung’s events faced mass rejection as heartlessly parasitic, change could follow. Society must stop rewarding attention merchants who treat humans as disposable content. Their names warrant only obscurity. Achieving justice begins by tuning out.

Dragonheart vs Carriage Lau

Jeffrey Fok vs Roy Chow

Promotional video of We Are Champs 2023