Young boxing star jets in for national champs

Reigning Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali, 19,  flew into Samoa yesterday morning to compete at the Champ of Champs national tournament at St Joseph’s College. 

“Flight got in at 6am, straight onto the scales, off to the fights,” Plodzicki-Faoagali said.

He will fight Ropati Hall in the under-81 kg final this morning having won yesterday.

He said conditions were tough having just come from eight weeks training in Europe.

“Not being used to the heat, it was the start of winter there so it’s a bit different.

His trainer and father Steven Faoagali agreed that the heat played a factor, but his son’s performance wasn’t too bad.

“You could see a bit of the jetlag in there, he could’ve been a bit busier.”

Faoagali expects a tough fight for his son tomorrow.

“Ropati’s a real tough competitor, throughout the years he’s one of Samoa’s best boxers.

“Looking forward to the challenge for Ato, but I’m sure he’s up to it.”

He said it’s a tricky gig being both trainer and dad.

“We do clash like any other father/son team, but we make it work.”

Plodzicki-Faoagali said the good thing about having your dad as coach is he’ll be straight up with you.

“He’s one of the hardest working I’ve seen,” Steven Faoagali said.

“He’s not the most talented, but he’s a real hard worker and that’ll take him far.”

The Oceanian Championships are on the horizon early next year before the World Championships in Russia in September.

“Trying to get top two at Oceania, then go to the Worlds and get in the top 3 to qualify for the Olympics,” Steven Faoagali said.

Plodzicki-Faoagali said his long term goal his to make the Olympics in 2020 before turning professional.

His father said it’s a tough sport, so he wants his son to get in, make some money, and get out.

“All going well that’s the goal, you can’t eat gold medals, have to get something out of it.

“He’s had probably 70 fights, and every single one I’m a nervous wreck.

“As a parent, you don’t wanna see your child get hurt.”

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