The man behind Parker's viral social media hits

By Thomas Airey 18 April 2020, 8:00AM

The man behind Lupesoliai Joseph Parker’s hit social media videos enjoys showcasing the former world heavyweight boxing champion’s personality.

Lupesoliai and his family have garnered attention worldwide whilst stuck at home in Auckland during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown, thanks to a series of light-hearted videos showing them singing and dancing.

Self-employed video producer, Kerry Russell, works as a videographer for the Samoan-New Zealander, and said it’s gratifying that people get to see who Lupesoliai really is.

“If you know Joe, Joe’s actually a fun guy and we just give each other stick all the time,” Russell said. 

“The side you’re seeing of him in the videos, that’s what Joe’s like. He likes to have a laugh, he likes to muck around.”

Russell, who has worked in the media industry for about 20 years, said it’s funny to see how the videos have been seen and shared around the world, even by people with little interest in boxing.

“It’s just me and Joe, or me Joe and [his partner] Lainey, in their house with no one else around, so it’s kinda just like you’re mucking around doing something on your phone,” he said.

“It’s more keeping us entertained with what we think is funny, and then if people jump on for the ride… if we can make people smile it’s cool.

“People must be needing a bit of a laugh.”

With Lupesoliai, partner Laine and their children housebound, Russell visits them to deliver groceries and other bits and pieces.

“While I’m there we do a bit of filming to stop us from getting bored I think,” he laughed.

“None of it’s really planned.”

Generally Russell will have an idea for a video, and pitch it to Lupesoliai who always says yes because the pair are so comfortable working together.

“The videos are taking, some of them half an hour some of them an hour and a half to put together, to actually film, so it’s all happening pretty fast,” Russell said.

“Couple of hours edit and pump it straight out that night.”

Russell does the majority of his freelance work for Sky Sport NZ, and first filmed the boxer in 2010 at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Youth Olympics in Singapore.

He has since covered most of Lupesoliai’s bouts in New Zealand, and filmed a couple of documentaries on the 28-year-old.

“Since then have grown quite close to him and his family, and his extended team have kinda welcomed me in,” Russell said.

“He’s just become a good mate now.”

The COVID-19 lockdown has provided them the chance to create some light-hearted material together for a change.

“Usually when you’re in camp with him or doing something like that it’s kinda not the right time to be turning around and starting to do a bit of fun stuff,” Russell said. 

“You’ll probably get blasted.

“Maybe moving forward people might just be cool with that, him being himself, and want to see that.”

And the videographer wonders whether that might just be a weight off his mate’s shoulders.

“During a fight week, and day of the fight, in the dressing room, as he’s walking out and all that, you’ve never met a more relaxed sportsman in your life,” Russell said.

“I’ve done All Black tours, Kiwis, five Olympics, all sorts of stuff and I’ve just never seen an athlete as relaxed as Joe is before he competes, it’s kinda quite weird really.”

Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi has taken notice of the pairs’ work, saying on Twitter that the most recent video was the highlight of his day.

Russell thinks Lupesoliai has a potential career in the entertainment industry, and said the boxer is better than some seasoned actors:

“To be honest, I’ve worked with a lot of people, and a lot of sportspeople over the years and some of the stuff Joe’s doing, and just learning within five minutes… it’s pretty mindblowing. “


Samoans abroad
By Thomas Airey 18 April 2020, 8:00AM

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