Age no barrier to 'China's hottest grandpa'

Story highlights

  • A toned, 80-year-old grandpa has become one of China's hottest fashion models
  • The actor rose to fame after his first runway appearance at China Fashion Week in 2015
  • See jaws drop as the octogenarian struts through Beijing's historic alleyways in video above

Beijing, China (CNN)He's tall, muscular and, despite being 80 years old, is an in-demand fashion model.

Wang Deshun shot to fame following a 30-second, bare-chested runway appearance during China Fashion Week in 2015.
    It was the first time Wang had ever walked a runway and his flowing white beard certainly turned heads.
    He became an overnight Internet sensation in China, with some dubbing him "China's Hottest Grandpa" and "Old Fresh Meat."
    "Old Fresh Meat" is a play on words for the popular Chinese phrase "Little Fresh Meat," used to describe attractive, young TV stars.
    Wang Dashun walks the runway at China Fashion Week in 2015

    Chance discovery

    As one of China's top fashion designers, Hu Sheguang never had a grandfather in his mind when planning his catwalk for China Fashion Week 2015.
    But that all changed when he saw a photo of Wang in QQ Wang's mobile phone, the musician composing tracks for his show.
    "Who is this old man, looking so energetic?" Hu asked.
    "That is my father," said the composer. Wang Deshun was quickly introduced to the designer and gladly took up a catwalk invitation. The rest is history.
    An actor by trade, Wang Deshun was born in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang in 1936 and started working in pantomime.
    He eventually moved into martial arts films, and has appeared in a number of Hollywood movies, including the "Forbidden Kingdom."
    He first started going to the gym when he was 50, aiming to keep his body in shape for his acting career.
    Seven years later, with a sculpted, lithe body, Wang created a performance called "living sculpture." While used to attention, he is still a little taken aback by the extent his fame has grown so late in his career.
    "People are surprised that an old man like me can have such good muscles," Wang tells CNN.
    And don't expect him to be slowing down any time soon.
    "Every day, for 30 years now, I have never stopped training," he says, noting that he almost never misses his rigorous daily swimming routine.

    Milan Fashion Week plans

    In Wang's eye, age isn't an obstacle.
    At 65, he learned to ride a horse in just a month for a role. At 78, he learned how to ride a motorbike.
    The octogenarian has a different way of evaluating age.
    Wang's nickname is "Old Fresh Meat" on Chinese social media platforms
    "As long as you dare to do things you have never done before, your heart is still young," he says, adding that he believes people should think again when they tell themselves that it is too late to do something.
    "That might just be your excuse for giving up."
    In a society where most people retire between 50 and 60 years of age, Wang Deshun is an anomaly, and plans to work as long as he is alive. Next year, he'll walk one of the runways at Milan Fashion Week.
    "I don't have a plan," Wang says. "I have always done whatever comes to my mind, and I will simply forge ahead."