Everyone loves a champion.
And so it showed yesterday when thousands crowded to Beach Road to celebrate Samoa‘s very own Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker’s world heavyweight title victory.
People of all ages turned up in busloads to catch a glimpse of their hero, creating scenes we haven’t seen since the Manu Samoa Sevens won the world Sevens Series a few years ago.
Excitement was evident. There is no doubt it, many young people in the crowd would have been inspired by the sheer sight of the champion. The older generation on the other hand would have only marveled at how far this young man has come.
A couple of years ago when Parker came to Samoa for a family vacation during Christmas, not many people would have thought this was possible.
Even when he returned to fight in Apia at the beginning of this year, while we knew he was of championship quality, many of us did not think this day would come so soon.
But here we are today in beautiful Samoa basking in the glory and the glow of one of this nation’s best sporting moment.
Who does not feel proud to be Samoan? Who does not feel invigorated by such a marvelous achievement?
Indeed, what a fantastic feeling, an absolute great way to usher in the Festive Season and the celebration of Christmas.
Two weeks ago in Auckland, the man with roots in Tanumapua and Faleula overcame a strong challenge from Andy Ruiz Jnr to claim the coveted W.B.O. belt.
The win has not come without criticism and doubt but that’s irrelevant at this point. What matters is that in Samoa we have a world champion.
The belt he holds is significant.
It was previously held by Tyson Fury. Prior to Fury’s reign, the belt had been in the firm grasp of Ukranian champion Wladimir Klitschko whom we thought would never let it go. But destiny comes in different ways.
Last year, another son of Samoa from Lauli’i had the chance to grab it off the Ukranian. Unfortunately for Alex Leapai, he could not quite do the job. Before that, Davia Tua fought for a different title held by Lennox Lewis. He couldn’t do the job either.
But Lupesoliai has obviously exceeded all of their achievements.
By becoming the world champion, he has proven that with the right training, right opportunities and a commitment to hard work, the sky is definitely the limit.
In moments like this though, it’s important we remember and pay tribute to people who had paved the way. Which brings us back to Alex Lepai.
It would have been nice if he was included in the Invest Samoa promotion aired during Parker’s title fight at the Vector Arena.
In our view, he is just as proud of Samoa as David Tua, Seiuli Dwayne Johnson, Mark Hunt, Ray Sefo and all the others who were featured.
Perhaps it was oversight and hopefully they will not make the same mistake next time. And let’s not forget Maselino Masoe who was also a world champion in his own right.
The point is that we should not take for granted the journey all these men had taken to reach the pinnacle of their sport. They got banged up for it and nobody will take away the fact they reached the heights many boxers can only dream of.
These boxers no doubt played a role to motivate Lupesoliai Parker whom we are sure they are extremely very proud of.
In Samoa, there is no doubt that Parker is our champion.
His name will go down in history as arguably Samoa’s greatest boxer ever.
Deservedly so not just for his prowess in the ring but his personality outside of it. Everyone who has had the chance to meet this young man will tell you, you will not meet a more humble person for a champion.
He has an amazing personality, down to earth and an extremely nice man. He is obviously the product of a good family upbringing and his parents Sala and Dempsey Parker should be very proud of themselves for raising a wonderful man who has made Samoa so, so proud. Congratulations again, Joseph Parker!
Stay humble, don’t change and we wish you all the best for your future endevaours! God bless!