The love, support and passion shown by Samoa towards world heavyweight champion boxer, Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker reduced the tough man to tears yesterday.
The 24-year-old champion fought back tears when he addressed dignitaries who attended an extravagant state lunch at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel yesterday.
The lunch followed the parade of the year, which saw thousands of Samoans on Beach Road, many flocking there to catch a glimpse of their hero.
At the luncheon, the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, congratulated Lupesoliai.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Members of Parliament, members of the business community and many others were present.
During his speech, Lupesoliai said the reception from Samoa since he arrived on Sunday has been overwhelming.
“Today was an amazing day,” he said.
“It’s probably the craziest thing I have been involved in. Seeing all those people, and like my mum said, it’s really sort of emotional seeing everyone there sitting in the rain and all the little kids.
“I mean Samoa put on this great parade today which I’m really humbled to see.”
Lupesoliai thanked P.M. Tuilaepa and his government for organising such a warm welcome for him.
“To the Head of State, thank you very much,” he said. “I am grateful to be here with my parents, they love this place with all their hearts and they were both born here. I was able to come here every year and spend a lot of time with my family and friends.
“I would like to thank the Prime Minister and all of the team for putting all of this together.”But this is far from the end of Lupesoliai’s journey.“I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support that we’ve been getting throughout my journey,” he said.
“It’s been a great journey so far and I feel like getting this W.B.O. and being the champion of the world is just the beginning for us.”And with tearful eyes and a crackling voice, Lupesoliai expressed his love for Samoa.“My goal for the future is to win all those belts and bring them back to Samoa,” he said. “I want to say, I love you Samoa, thank you very much.”