Being a champion
Welcome home Lupesoliai Joseph Parker!
In the uncertain world of sport and the even more uncertain world of peopleís opinions, we are sure that the very warm welcome you received at the airport and the villages along the way into town, would have reassured you of one thing.
In our eyes, you are a world champion and nobody had better say otherwise.
And while we may not all profess to know the finer points of the sport of boxing or even be familiar with the language employed to describe it, we can recognise a champion when we see one.
We know that the label of champion is at times casually bestowed.
Not so in this case.
After sifting through all the varying opinions and judgements that have been made by people from all over the world, several things stand out.
You did not create the situation where there are four world bodies which claim to be the ultimate in the boxing world.
You have boxed and won one of those four.
In the W.B.O. championship fight in Auckland, while you yourself believe that you won the fight, it was not your call as to who was finally declared the winner. Respected, experienced judges made that call.
And quite frankly, although we all hope you will continue to compete in this sport, and perhaps take some or any of the other three world belts, if you didnít, you would still be a world champion.
A champion is a person who has surpassed all rivals in a sporting contest.
You have surely ticked that box.
But under the often critical gaze of Pacific people, a champion needs to be more than that.
You have taken the time to acknowledge Samoa by word - acknowledging your culture and traditions, and deed ñ by returning here from New Zealand and staging a fight here.
There is also the acceptance on your part that the way to the top is not always straightforward, easy or pleasant. Learning to deal with criticism - valid or otherwise while you are in the public eye shows maturity and confidence on your part.
Thereís the respect for both Samoa and New Zealand - countries that have had a part in shaping you into who you are.
Then thereís the way you interact with your family, particularly your parents, your friends and the people around you who are helping and supporting you to get to where you want to go in boxing.
And there is the time you spend with the fans who want to see you, talk to you, find out what you are like. You appear to have all the time in the world for them and their questions - it seems to come naturally to you.
Perhaps most importantly, there is the particular warmth and love you have shown to one of our well-known identities, Nathan Keil. (see page 5)
Your actions and response to this young man speak volumes about you as a caring, human being who is a true champion.
We hope you will never change.