Home' The Wellingtonian : August 18th 2011 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 18, 2011
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Time for Tua to hang up gloves
Beaten warrior: David Tua after his defeat by Monte Barrett. Photo: FAIRFAX
Fingers crossed heavyweight
boxer David Tua quits the
ring after his defeat by
journeyman American Monte
Barrett in Auckland over the
Losing a unanimous points
decision to a 40-year-old boxer of
no great class surely signals that
Tua, at 38, should be focusing on
life after boxing.
Tua has not been a factor in
world heavyweight boxing for
years. The last time he fought a
quality opponent was in March
2003, when he drew with Hasim
Rahman. Since then there have
been protracted absences from the
ring, costly legal wrangles with
his former management and a few
desultory bouts against mediocre
It has only been the incessant
hype of a few newspaper sports
editors (who should have known
better) and television channels
cashing in on the Tua name that
has kept his legend alive. Having
said that, I have a soft spot for
I recall him at the 1992 Barce-
lona Olympics, where he fought
bravely to earn a bronze medal.
After his defeat there, he picked
up his tattered old duffle bag and
ambled around the boxing com-
plex, followed by a posse of New
When we found a quiet alcove,
microphones and television
cameras were set up and an inter-
Suddenly, Tua, 19, raised his
hand to halt proceedings. He
ferreted around his bag for his
camera, then handed it across,
saying: Can someone take a
photo of me and Mr Holmes.''
Tua impressed boxing
aficionados in Barcelona. Big
George Foreman was most
enthusiastic about the short,
squat New Zealander.
Soon after Kevin Barry got
alongside him and persuaded the
south Auckland kitchen-hand to
What followed was
rollercoaster ride of big talk, con-
stant debate about his quality as a
boxer, and important bouts
against name fighters.
Tua is short. He is hardly taller
than Holmes, who is, as they say,
vertically challenged. Various
press releases described him as
5ft 11in. I doubt he was a
hair over 5ft 8in (1.73m).
Nonetheless Tua scored memor-
able knockouts against big names,
including John Ruiz, David Izon-
ritei, Oleg Maskaev, Rahman and
He was disappointing in his
heavyweight title fight against
Lennox Lewis in November 2000,
losing all 12 rounds. By then he
tentativeness in the ring, a trait
which marked the final decade of
The fight drew massive interest
in New Zealand. Of 3.5 million
New Zealanders over the age of
five, 1.4 million tuned in, three
times the viewing audience for the
2000 Sydney Olympics opening
ceremony and the important 2000
and 2003 America's Cup races.
Tua truly embraced the Amer-
ican penchant for trying to be dif-
ferent. He sported an absurd
finger in the light socket'' haircut
and took to wearing Samoan
cloaks into the ring, invoking an
Island warrior image.
After polishing off Tua, Lewis
said: If you come to war, you have
to bring your whole arsenal, not
just a left hook and a haircut.''
Tua battled increasingly to keep
his weight under control and after
the split with Barry his career fell
Now he's fighting no-namers a
million miles away from Las
Vegas, where he was once a big
player in the capital of boxing.
However, that should not blind
us to his achievements.
New Zealand has a proud
record in heavyweight boxing.
In 1897 New Zealand-raised
Bob Fitzsimmons beat the great
James J Corbett to win the world
heavyweight title. In 1928 Tom
Heeney of Gisborne fought
another ring legend, Gene Tun-
ney, for the title.
Just before the war, Aucklander
Morris Strickland went within a
whisker of earning a title shot
against Joe Louis.
Tua has certainly added to that
storied history. I just hope he
realises it's time to hang up the
The Wellington Lions
play their last home
game of the national
season tonight, and
really need a win.
land are only one point
ahead of the Lions on
the competition ladder.
After tonight's match
the Lions will be on the
road for their final two
games of the regular
Waikato on the August 26, followed by North Har-
bour on September 3.
Tonight's game at Westpac Stadium kicks off at
7.35pm. Children get in free with an adult.
The Wellington team is: Reggie Goodes, Dane
Coles, Neemia Tialata, Jeremy Thrush (captain),
Mark Reddish, Dean Brunsdon, Scott Fuglistaller,
Brad Shields, T J Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Julian
Savea, Charlie Ngatai, Conrad Smith, Alapati
Leiua, Apoua Stewart. Reserves: Motu Matu'u,
Jacob Ellison, Joe Latta, Faifili Levave, Frae Wil-
son, Michael Hobbs, Steve Honey, Arden David-
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