We’re thinking of you too, Joseph Parker!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 26 February 2018, 12:00AM

Once a Samoan always a proud patriotic Samoan. 

No matter where in the world we are, we will forever be flying that flag telling as many people as possible - who quite often mistake Samoa for Somalia – about our beautiful small slice of paradise. 

It’s just the way we are. As a people, we are a proud lot. 

Yes we might come from a place that is only a tiny dot on the world map but we punch well above our weight in all areas of life and that’s just how it has always been. Whether it’s academic, sports, entertainment, clergy or whatever, so many Samoans have made us proud in all facets of life – anywhere in the world.

Look at the story on page 5 and 6 of your newspaper today about Dr. Selina Tusitala Marsh mixing it with royalty at the Westminster Abbey. How wonderful it is to see our people excel - and with a lot of pride take Samoa with them in their journey.

Which is why it was equally heartwarming to note the sentiments echoed by our very own world champion, Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker, who is thinking about Samoa and the tapuaiga all the way from Las Vegas.

A few weeks out from the biggest fight of his career where he is set to take on Anthony Joshua infront of 80,000 people in Wales – and millions more watching from around the world – Lupesoliai said his thoughts are never far from Samoa.

It’s why he went out of his way to accommodate a request from your newspaper for a video interview with the Samoa Observer which tells us a lot about what he is thinking.

“All my love to Samoa,” he said from Vegas. “Just know that I will represent our country and make us proud. Fa’afetai lava mo le tapuaiga (Thank you for your support). 

“Without the support of Samoa I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. 

“So I just want to say I look forward to seeing everyone in Samoa after the fight because after every fight I come back to Samoa for relaxation time and hang out with family.”

But before that, Lupesoliai has business to take care of. He knows his opponent, Joshua, is the heavy favourite but he is not fazed by it. Instead, he concentrating on what he has to do by following a strict diet and exercise regime.

“Firstly, I feel excited for the fight because it’s a fight I’ve wanted for a long time,” Parker said. “There are three titles on the line and I’m fighting an undefeated fighter so it’s a big challenge and a big task. 

“It’s a big challenge and it’s going to be one that we’re looking forward to and like I said the belt is an opportunity for me to fight for the two extra belts.”

For Samoa’s Global Ambassador, Lupesoliai always has both Samoa and New Zealand at the forefront of his mind. The boxer knows that his star and brand power is invaluable to both countries and he intends to use it to showcase them to the world.

 “If I win these belts, I’ll get to bring them back to Samoa and New Zealand and celebrate with everyone. I’m representing these countries and I’ll try my best and do my best to represent them.

 “It’s a great time to get the brand out there and there’s a lot of people in the world who don’t know where Samoa and New Zealand are but with this fight, there’s going to be a lot more people who are going to know where our country is.”

We couldn’t agree more with Lupesoliai. In as far as heavyweight boxing goes, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. If David had a chance to fight Mike Tyson, the Parker vs Joshua clash would’ve been similar. But dare I say this is bigger than Tua vs Lennox Lewis.

Which is why it’s heartwarming to know that Parker, for all the million things that could be going through his head as he prepares for the fight, he is thinking of Samoa and taking the time out to acknowledge the prayers, tapuaiga and the support. He is a true champion in every meaning of the word.

Come to think of it, I don’t think enough people appreciate the fact Samoa has a genuine world champion in Parker. Too many people have been trying to discredit what this son of Samoa has achieved rather than giving him credit for what he has done and how hard he has worked to get to where he is. No one else in Samoa – or the Pacific for that matter including Australia and many other big countries – has reached the level Parker has.

He is someone who deserves respect and admiration of upcoming boxers who want to reach the top level. The result of the Joshua fight is up in the air, it will be determined by who wants it the most on that day.

Whatever happens, Lupesoliai Parker will always be a champion in our eyes. 

The boxing world can knock him and say what they like, but here is a young man who in a few years has given this country – and New Zealand – something no one else has done in the history of sports. And no one will be able to take that away from him.

As he prepares for Joshua and thinking of Samoa, we want him to know that here on these shores, there are close to 200,000 people thinking and praying for him too. 

Stay strong our champion, you’ve got this! 

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 26 February 2018, 12:00AM

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