Samoa’s young boxers take the ring
One of Samoa’s youngest fighters fought before his village for the first time, in the Marist Boxing Club finals yesterday.
Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali, 19 who won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games said it was an honour to fight in front of his family from Sa’aga, Siumu and Toonai.
“Good to fight in front of my village, good to show the locals my talent” he said.
“Only my uncle had seen me fight before, the others only on television.”
Some of his family are his biggest fans, while others look away.
“My grandma came to watch, she loves watching it.”
“My mum, she never watches. She’s only watched one of my fights, maybe my first fight, and so many fights later she’s never watched again,” he said.
Not only a professional boxer himself, Plodzicki-Faoagali also trains young people to box, and hone their talents.
Prior to the Marist Finals, he spent a day with children between nine and 13, working on their skills and coordination.
“The little kids did really well, I’m proud of them,” Plodzicki-Faoagali said.
“With kids, training is different, you have to make it fun.”
“They don’t really listen so you just make it fun, make some jokes, dance around, and muck around with them.”
As for the older children in their teens, Plodzicki-Faoagali has seen an increase in confidence, since he began training with them earlier this year.
In June this year, he kicked off a program called Against the Odds (A.T.O). He partnered with Marist Boxing in Siumu and Falese’ela/Lefaga to promote amateur boxing as a mentor.
The partnership aims to promote not only boxing,, but also inspire children and young people to live a healthy lifestyle and one of discipline, dedication and commitment to chase their individual dreams no matter their circumstances.
“It’s good for the kids, good for them because there is not much out there,” he said.
“It’s good for them to keep out of trouble, especially sports and activities to do throughout the day… something extra for them to do, some training, some boxing.”
Plodzicki-Faoagali said he’s happy to see interest in boxing rise over the years, as it may attract better funding and therefore better opportunities for Samoan boxers.
“It just makes the tournaments more exciting,” he said.
“You may have three fights in three days, so it’s a good development for everyone who gets to fight each other, get more experience.”
“It’s good to show more interest for funding as well, because we’re a low funded sport.”