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11 November 2022

‘Where I’m meant to be’: Cook Islands boxer eyes World Championships

Saturday 11 March 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Boxing, Sports


‘Where I’m meant to be’: Cook Islands boxer eyes World Championships
Teremoana Jr Teremoana trades punches with Olympic bronze medallist Abner Teixeira da Silva, of Brazil, during a tournament in Bulgaria in February. SUPPLIED/ 23031027

Cook Islands boxer Teremoana Jr Teremoana is confident he will be representing Australia in the upcoming World Boxing Championships, considered the highest level of competition for amateur boxers alongside the Olympic Games.

The 25-year-old heavyweight is “90 per cent sure” his performances during a boxing tour of Europe last month has earned him a spot on the Australian team for the International Boxing Association’s premier tournament in Uzbekistan in May.

“I’m not entirely sure when they will announce the team, but I am expecting to hear an answer within the next month,” Teremoana, of Pukapuka and Atiu heritage, says.

“I’ve got a bit of work on in training, and I am also planning to fight 10 kilograms lighter at this world tournament.”

Teremoana also has his sights on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Members of the Australian men’s and women’s boxing teams who travelled to Europe to compete last month. SUPPLIED/ 23031028
Members of the Australian men’s and women’s boxing teams who travelled to Europe to compete last month. SUPPLIED/ 23031028

His goal is to become world champion in the professional ranks as well, and he “would love to represent the Cook Islands one day”.

He is undefeated in his pro record with four wins by knock-out. Meanwhile, his amateur record stands at 27 fights with nine wins and 18 losses.

Teremoana fought for Australia in the super heavyweight class – where competitors weigh more than 92kg – at the 67th Bocskai Istvan Memorial and 74th Strandja international boxing tournaments in Hungary and Bulgaria, respectively, in February.

“This was the first time being selected to represent Australia,” Teremoana says.

“When I was selected, it was a bit surreal.

“I believe that this is where I’m meant to be, to compete with the best in the world.”

In both tournaments, Teremoana won his first match but was eliminated in his second – going toe-to-toe with fierce competitors including Abner Teixeira da Silva, of Brazil, who won bronze medal in the men’s heavyweight event at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

“Competing with top opponents will only bring out the best in me,” Teremoana says.

“It was good to share the ring with the Olympic bronze medallist from Brazil. I didn’t win the fight, but learnt so much during – and, after critiquing a few things, I believe I will prevail next time.”

Teremoana further honed his skills at a week-long international training camp between tournaments.

“A few highlights of the tour for me were travelling to Europe, seeing snow, just the experience of it all, the tournaments.

“I was out and every day was a new experience. My brain was like a sponge and I was just soaking it all in. It was also good to see the competition at that level.

“And I can say, I was not out of my league.”

Teremoana says his tour of Europe cost more than $4000 covering plane tickets, accommodation, and food.

Funding for the trip was provided by the Combat Institute of Australia as well as Teremoana’s sponsors, Your Choice Realty and Royal Fadez, and “generous” donations from Alwyz Keason and the Keason family, Danny and Gail Spendiff, the Teingoa Walewaoa family, and the Maiva Teremoana Tangauru family.

“This trip wouldn’t have been possible without everyone above and all the work behind the scenes. Meitaki Maata.”

Teremoana says his tour taught him to “be thankful for what we have, and be grateful for the little things”.

“I took a lot of lessons away from each of my fights, and will be working to improve on them leading up to worlds in May.”

The World Boxing Championships is a biennial amateur boxing competition organised by sport governing body International Boxing Association. The first championships for men were held in 1974, while the women’s version was introduced 27 years later in 2001.

Teremoana calls boxing a “lifestyle”.

“If you were wanting to give boxing a crack, you have to make sacrifices,” he says.

“It’s a sport with the highest highs and lowest lows. Hard work beats talent if talent don’t work hard. When training, stay consistent and show up every day willing to learn.

“After my last tournament, it showed me how far I’ve come as well as how far I’ve got to go.

“How bad do you want it?”

Teremoana grew up in Australia and started boxing at age 12, learning how to fight in order to protect his sisters.

During his junior career as a boxer, Teremoana competed in 24 fights, netting seven wins and 14 losses between the ages of 14 and 19.

His wins included two Queensland titles, one Golden Gloves, and one Cook Islands heavyweight title. He also beat Justis Huni, who has held the Australian heavyweight title since 2020, during this time.

Teremoana originally didn’t intend to pursue boxing further, earning a certificate in plumbing and finishing his apprenticeship before his foray into amateur and professional boxing began.

It was not until his 21st birthday that, upon reflecting on his life, he decided he wanted to pursue the World Boxing Championships.

So, on New Years Day 2020, he landed in Brisbane with $120, a backpack of clothes, and a dream.

Three years later, he may be getting his first shot at the gold.