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Pukapuka boxer reconnects to heritage ahead of Europe tour

Thursday 2 February 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Boxing, Sports

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Pukapuka boxer reconnects to  heritage ahead of Europe tour
Glory to God … Australian-based heavyweight Teremoana Jr. Teremoana who hails from Pukapuka is heading to Europe to fight for a spot in the 2023 Boxing World Championships. FACEBOOK (teremoana_rep)/23020119

A Pukapuka boxer is proudly taking his Cook Islands heritage to Europe to fight for a spot in the 2023 Boxing World Championships. By Atutahi Potaka-Dewes, Te Rito Journalism Cadet, PMN News.

Australian-based heavyweight Teremoana Jr. Teremoana is on a four-time TKO streak, making him undefeated since turning professional last year.

But Teremoana’s success hasn’t come without sacrifice.

“I left my job last year to pursue it. I don’t have too many financial sponsors at the moment so I still got to work one or two days a week to bring some money in.

“I train six days a week and two times a day and then when we’re leading in towards comp, we up it a bit. Can’t have a day off because your opponent might not be having a day off.”

Teremoana's journey as a boxer has also involved him reconnecting with his Cook Islands heritage.

Like many Pasifika with indigenous first names, Teremoana deferred to being known by an English name, his second name, Samson.

A significant passing before a milestone birthday was a pivotal turning point for Teremoana personally and professionally.

“Everyone in Australia called me that (Samson) because it’s easier to say. But I’m named after my grandfather, Teremoana and he passed away a few months before my 21st.

“In order to recognise him and carry on his name, I’ve taken on the family name and I also haven’t cut my hair since my 21st. So I’m the new and improved Samson.”

Teremoana says since taking on his first name, he’s felt it resonate more with him.

“When I use to be called Samson I use to feel like I was hidden and I could get away with a few things. But now everything I do directly links back to my family, links back to the Cook Islands and I just have this sense of pride. So I thought I might as well do something with it.

“So I decided three days after my 21st I wanted to be the world champion and since then that’s when my drive and motivation came to turn pro and then pursue this career.”

​Teremoana has been selected to represent Australia in amateur boxing tournaments in Hungary and Bulgaria this month from February 3 to 28 and selection for the amateur Boxing World Championships will be made from the European tour.

He says it will be an opportunity to face off against quality opponents and take the “Kuki nation to the world”.

Being of mixed Pukapuka and Australian descent, Teremoana says although he is proud to represent Australia, his ultimate goal is to one day take a win home for the Cook Islands.

“Representing Australia is a privilege but there are 24 million in Australia. Cook Islands – we are a real small nation.

“I believe I can medal and can make a statement and say one out of 20,000 (people) has won a medal at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games and to me, that means a lot more than winning for Australia.”