Boxing a learning experience for Pacific Games athletes
Boxing on Samoa's big island of Savai'i has provided a learning experience for many boxers, win or lose, at the Samoa 2019 XVI Pacific Games.
The four-day event has been staged at Don Bosco Hall, Salelologa, with finals happening on Friday.
For 19-year-old Solomon Islands’ Pemberton Lele, his progress to the finals has been about building skills. He is the only member from his team to make it to the finals, following a toe-to-toe fight against Elia Rokobuli from Fiji in the 60kg lightweight event.
“I have learnt to fight strong and new skills from other boxers I have fought and seen in the last few days,” he said ahead of his final.
“I am so proud to be in the finals. I am ready. I am not nervous for my fight tomorrow against team Samoa. I wish my opponent good luck and I will try my best to beat him tomorrow. Never give up, that’s the motto,” Lele said.
Win or lose, Tuvalu's boxers are positive they will come back stronger next time, after getting their fighter Fiu Tui beaten by Samoa’s Jancen Poutoa in the semi-finals.
“It has been a tough competition for our boxers, but that is what boxing is all about. You lose and move forward but come back stronger next time. Our drive is our whole country back home,” said assistant coach Navosa Ioata.
For Papua New Guinea, the leading team in the boxing competition with eight of their 11 boxers in the finals, coach Peter Morrison is certain Samoa 2019 is a good international experience for his young fighters.
“This is also a good opportunity for them to experience an international competition.
"You have got big players like Australia and New Zealand who, probably, in boxing look pass the Pacific and opt to [compete in] international competition," Morrison said.
“But if they have invested here and to see how talented the Pacific boxers are, they would then realise that they have stiff competition next door. If they help develop it they would be strengthening their own boxers in getting great competition, but hopefully things like this would open up a few doors.”
He is certain that winning medals will be a good start for developing boxing.
Morrison continued: “Success will breed success, so... these kids could be put on a pedestal. They would also be great role models, for themselves but also their villages.
"PNG has so many different languages and so many different mini-cultures there it is a great way to unite them.”
A couple of the PNG boxers have fought in the Commonwealth Games, but the greatest highlight for them is having the juniors join in at the Pacific Games.
“The athletes could be ambassadors of sports with clean and healthy eating, they don’t drink and smoke, when other kids see that they could inspire more children and to come in to try boxing. You have to healthy and fit to compete,”Morrison said.