I saw recently on facebook that Mike Lowney passed away. Here is a link to the Go Fund Me that his son's Kung Fu brother set up. This will be a hard time for the family financially as well as emotionally. Please take some time to read and donate on the Go Fund me.
Big Mike was a major part of the Kung Fu world in Chinatown. He told me that he actually was studying Karate together with Bob Rosen, and that it was Mike that got Bob Rosen (who would later become the head of the Boston Wah Lum School) into Kung Fu in the first place.
Mike had recently shared a story with me about the old days in Chinatown regarding the Firecrackers blowing out the windows of a supermarket.. and why they started holding the fircracker lines further out from the stores. (That story went up on the blog and I will add a link later.)
But to me, Big Mike was mostly a person who came by the school to visit my Sifu, a white guy who spoke Cantonese and Taishanese and had studied countless types of Kung Fu both in Chinatown, Hong Kong, and China. He was well known for his loyalty to his Sifu, which many Chinese saw as uncharacteristic for most American students. He had embraced the Chinese culture full on and even become somewhat of a legend to a generation between mine and his of young Chinese men who took it upon themselves to recount his great exploits to me.
Hong Mao, or Panda, once interrupted my Kung Fu practice to go through a whole litany of how bad ass Big Mike was.
"He would break those big rocks and bricks and walk around carrying a sword like one of those 'dai hup'" a Wuxia Hero. The closest thing to that image in American culture would be a cowboy... and more recently Kung Fu Panda (the first one) makes fun of this image with Po imagining himslef to be the wandering hero. But To many in Chinatown, including Chinese, Big Mike was the real deal.
Well Big Mike leaves behind a wife and son and I hope that Chinatown can be an extended family to them. The old generation and much of the new generation knew and will miss Big Mike. But part of the reason why I decided to write this entry is because I am aware that there is a whole new Chinatown that has arrived in Boston from all over and have good intentions and care about the community, but who may not even know who Big Mike was. I feel that a lot of this newer generation reads the blog and I just thought it would be good for them to hear the little that I knew about who he was.