Top sports event buoys voters

Thank heavens for sport.

The recent arrival of heavyweight boxer Lupesoliai La’auli Joseph Parker and his entourage, provides the country with a welcome break and some respite from opposing political factions banging on with their claims, counterclaims and promises.

Lupesolia’i’s ’s  opponent, 31 year old southpaw Jason Bergman from Pennsylvania, U.S.A. flew in yesterday afternoon giving himself just under a week to get used to the climate before the event.

We welcome him to our shores and assure him he can expect to experience the warmth of Samoa both in the ring and out of it.

Having won 16 of his last 18 fights, a taciturn Bergman is no doubt aware that his opponent, seven years his junior, will not only start as favourite with his unbeaten record, but have the home ground advantage.

For Lupesolia’i, the ‘Rumble in Paradise’ is all part of a carefully-managed career sequence of fights to see him eventually get a shot at the world title.  

After he leaves in a few weeks, it will be time for electors to go back to the serious business of considering who should be our representatives in parliament for the next five years.

So far, there have been few surprises on the political front, but with the Government’s manifesto still to be revealed and some late candidate announcements of candidates still to come, February may provide us with some interesting news. 

Most recently, the Opposition, with depleted numbers, has been attacking the present government’s financial management and making their own promises to increase benefits and set up new bodies, should they get in.

On the other side, the government, a.k.a. the Prime Minister, has been flicking off their criticisms and accusations in his time-honoured fashion by throwing in a few analogies here and there to steer away from giving direct answers.

It’s all so predictable.

Which is why this top boxing bout is so timely; sport is anything but predictable. 

Watching any sport is a joy for most of our people, and top sport even more so. Coupled with the event being staged in Apia, and with one of the athletes being someone we can claim as our own, it doesn’t get much better than that.

The sport of boxing was once one of Samoa’s success stories.Names such as Scanlan, Betham, Leapai and of course David ‘the Terminator’ Tua are well-known beyond these shores.   

Sadly over the years, Samoa has slipped in the ratings at regional and international events with intermittent success rates. 

Lined up beside the emergence of weightlifting which has become quite the success story, the difference in the two sports appears to be the person at the top.

Weightlifting has Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork who has made as many, if not more sacrifices than those he expects from his athletes, and that appears to be the difference. His own background and experience in the sport has also been a big factor in the success of his lifters.

Meanwhile, there no shortage of strong young men or women, who with the right drive, training and commitment could gravitate to either sport and taste success.

The news that a coaching clinic will be held by Lupesolia’i’s team would go a little way to igniting some interest in the sport, but what happens after the clinic is even more important. 

International sportsmen such as Mahonri Schwalger and Va’aiga Tuigamala who have returned to Samoa and set up training (rugby Mahonri) and staged events (boxing Va’aiga) for locals can attest to the time, money and energy required to sustain these organizations for our young people, beyond one event.

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