Samoan wrestler on a mission

By Anina Kazaz ,

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Coach Gaku Akazawa working with Uta Junior (UJ).

Coach Gaku Akazawa working with Uta Junior (UJ). (Photo: Anina Kazaz)

The training schedule and preparation for 16-year-old Uta Junior (U.J.) wrestler for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Argentina is tough and strict. 

The wrestling competition will take place from the 6-18 October at the Parque Polideportivo Roca in Buenos Aires.

Gaku Akazawa from Japan is coaching and preparing U.J. for two months now at the Sinamoga Plantation boxing gym.

U.J., from the village Fasitoouta and child of Uta Muaulu and Feula Muaulu, attends Robert Louis Stevenson School. He has two brothers and six sisters.

This will be the first time for U.J. to compete in an international competition.

He will be starting in the Boys’ Freestyle category and will be the only Samoan competing in wrestling at the Summer Youth Olympics. 

They train two times a day, six days a week. The training sessions are two hours long. In the morning, they start training from 4:30 until six o’clock and in the evening between five o’clock and 7:30.

 “I am very nervous. We are going to work mainly on my techniques in the next training sessions,” U.J. said. 

 “I am training really hard. The training, especially in the morning at 4:30, is hard, but it is good.”

Mr. Akazawa added: “The muscle training and the strength are already good. What he needs are the techniques.”

The hopes and expectations for U.J’s success at the Olympics are high.

ON THE MAT: Coach Gaku Akazawa and Uta Junior (U.J) at training at the Sinamoga Plantation boxing gym. (Photo Anina Kazaz)
ON THE MAT: Coach Gaku Akazawa and Uta Junior (U.J) at training at the Sinamoga Plantation boxing gym. (Photo Anina Kazaz)

 “I hope and I think it is possible to win the Gold medal,” U.J. said.

 “I believe that he is able to win this competition. I am looking forward to it, I am sure for him there will be a bright future,” Mr. Akazawa said. 

U.J. also practices judo, the sport where he scooped a Gold medal. Both of his brothers take part in Judo. 

Through the work of Mr. Akazawa, Tuaopepe Asiata Jerry Wallwork, the president of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, national coach and former wrestler, sees the chance of getting a good national wrestling team once again.

 “Gaku is going to be the coach for the wrestling team of Samoa, we had a strong team before, and we won some medals at the Oceania Games.

 “I hope we can bring it back to where it was before. I never had the time, so I am just going to look over it. I want him to build it up again, I am lucky to have him,” Tuaopepe said. 

 “He (Mr. Akazawa) is going to stay, which is an advantage to us, he is going to try and qualify for the Olympic Games.”

Gaku also takes part in wrestling competition and according to Tuaopepe, he hopes to get him to compete for Samoa in the next Commonwealth Games. 

At the moment, Mr. Akazawa is training about four-five students. 

 “I want to start promoting wrestling in Samoa. I want to teach the students in Samoa so that we can have a good strong team,” Mr. Akazawa said.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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