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Cook Islander boxer eyes Olympic qualification at Pacific Games

Thursday 5 October 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Boxing, Pacific Games 2023, Sports


Cook Islander boxer eyes Olympic qualification at Pacific Games
Australia super heavyweight boxing champion Teremoana Samson Teremoana Jr’s parents, siblings and grandparents in Rarotonga. MELINA ETCHES/23100304

The Australian super heavyweight boxing champion, Cook Islander Teremoana Samson Teremoana Junior, is all set to square off in the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands from November 1 to 14.

His goal is to win gold at the regional games in the Super Heavyweight Division (92kg+) to get one step closer to his dream of participating in the Olympics.

Born and raised in Australia, he is the third of six children to parents Alicia Teremoana nee Spendiff (Australian) and Junior Teinakore Teremoana Tangauru (Pukapuka/Atiu). His siblings are Temii, Puapii, Teremoana, Grace, Tongalewu and Teokotai.

He has heritage to the islands of Pukapuka through his paternal grandfather Teremoana Tangauru and grandmother Mii Tungane from Atiu.

Teremoana Samson Teremoana Jr will be competing at the upcoming Pacific Games for Australia. 23100321

Last month Teremoana’s parents, siblings, and maternal grandparents visited Rarotonga for a holiday, staying in the village of Pue where his father was raised until the age of seven.

His parents are incredibly proud of their son’s hard work, commitment, discipline, and success.

Teremoana’s father says: “The whole family in general is so proud of him, he has worked very hard since 2020 when he became serious.”

“Alicia also does a lot of work behind the scenes. Also, he spoke at his grandfather’s funeral whom he is named after and promised to take his name Teremoana around the world.”

His grandfather Danny Spendiff said, “From a grandparents’ point of view, we are more than happy to support him so he can concentrate on his training and skills and keep focused. He is a qualified plumber too.”

“It’s been great to watch his evolution since he was a young boy, and there is now a massive difference in his skills level and attitude.”

Teremoana started boxing when he was around 12 years of age, and was crowned the Cook Islands Super Heavyweight Champion back in 2017.

He made the decision to step away from professional ranks in December 2022 in order to focus on preparing for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Since then, he has had the opportunity to represent Australia in three international tournaments. Two of these tournaments took place earlier in the year in February, in Europe.

In the Bocsvai Tournament in Hungary, Teremoana faced Lithuania in the first round and emerged victorious with a TKO (technical knockout out) in the first round. However, he lost his second fight against the Ukrainian gold medallist from the European Games.

In Bulgaria, he participated in the prestigious Strandja Tournament where he faced the silver medallist from the European Games representing Georgia in the first round. He won by decision to advance to the next round.

Up against the Brazilian Olympic bronze medallist in the second round, he lost by split decision.

In April, Teremoana was sent to India to train with the Indian National boxing team for two weeks in preparation for the upcoming World Championships in Uzbekistan, which were scheduled for May. He said the purpose of this training was to engage in international sparring with some of the best boxers from India.

In May, he travelled to Kazakhstan for a one-week training camp, just before the World Championships.

At the World Champs in the first round, he faced a boxer from France and won by unanimous decision. In the next round, he fought against the reigning Olympic and World gold medallist from Uzbekistan.

“It was a tough fight, but unfortunately, I lost due to prematurely being stopped," he said.

Looking ahead to his next goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games, Teremoana needed to participate in the necessary trials to secure a spot. He won the state selection and advanced to the National Australian titles in Perth in August.

In the first round, he was up against South Australia and won by a second-round TKO, earning a place in the final. Facing a New South Wales boxer in the final, he emerged victorious with a second-round TKO, claiming the 2023 Australian Champion title.

Standing in greatness at 6’6, Teremoana remains steadfast and focused on his Olympics goal with the support of his close-knit family.