Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Fresh from his recent induction in the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, Faumuina To’aletai David Tua still packs a punch for his love of the sport of boxing.
Nowadays, you will find him at the David Tua Gym in Onehunga running members through drills and workouts. It’s a big change from his glory days when he once was a true machine in the ring.
Faumuina recalls the moment he received the news regarding his induction and the humility he felt.
“It was a great honour to be acknowledged,” he says. “Instantly, when I got the call, I thought about my parents right away. Even though they’re not here anymore, they are here in spirit with us.
“I think of those who have paved the way for me and boxing and I also think of the future generation of the sport.”
The hall of fame induction came as a timely reminder of David’s service in the community, both in and outside of the ring. Already recognised for his services to boxing, in 2019 he received further recognition in the Queen’s Birthday honours for services to the community.
A testament of this service is seen through his work with members of the public in his gym.
Opening in 2011, the David Tua Gym in Onehunga is run by Faumuina and his wife/manager Helen. He highlighted the importance of teaching not only the physical side of fitness wellbeing in his gym but also the mental aspect.
The gym follows the mantra, ‘World Champions in the ring, world champions outside of the ring,” Faumuina says.
“The gym still has the same service or tautua; I am still doing that role of serving for the community and it’s a different service now.”
“Boxing is more than just the physical side. There’s all the values and discipline that these kids bring from their home/family, that we work and remind them of.”
Along with the gym, David has also set up the David Tua Foundation to assist families in need. It also helps with the funding of gym membership for kids who need financial support to train.
“I have to challenge these kids, making sure I speak to them about the importance of serving and remembering what their parents have sacrificed for them and to always work hard in whatever you do.”
Faumuina’s dedication to the community also reaches out to his homeland in Samoa. It’s always been a goal of his to travel to Samoa to build a gym for aspiring boxers. However, with the spread of Covid-19 around the world, the majority of planning has been put on hold.
“We hope to go back and serve as a way of thanking our parents for the sacrifices they have made for us,” he says.
“We will never come close to what they have done for us. I don’t want to do it just for the sake of it but it has to be done right.”
“You have seen local fighters from Mexico and all over the world but never the fighter from Samoa. This will be a good opportunity for them for exposure to the world stage.”
With his busy schedule and daily programs, the 49-year-old still manages to make time for upcoming boxing talent in New Zealand including the likes of David Nyika and Lupesoliai Joseph Parker.
“I haven’t watched much boxing since I retired but I always make sure to follow David and Parkers fights when televised,” he says.
“Always remember to be self-driven and to surround yourself with a good support team.”
“I wish them all the best in what they do and to always remember that it’s not what you do for the sport but what you do for the community.”
Ever mindful of events across the wider Pacific community, Faumuina also shared his concerns for the Tongan community in these truly devastating times.
“My heart and prayers go out to all my Tongan friends and family out there. I hope and pray for the best for our Tongan brothers and sisters as they go through these tough times.”