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2012 Summer Olympics Update: Jamias reports on experience ‘outside the ring’

jeff@samoanews.com

American Samoa may not have anyone fighting in the ring in the sport of boxing in these 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, but what we do have is someone that is just as important — on the outside of the ring.

Mapu Jamias is the only Samoan International Technical Official (ITO) in these games for the sport of boxing. He is overseeing the referees and judges and making sure that whoever is fighting belongs to that country or group of countries they are representing. He traveled to these Olympic Games as part of the AIBA, and not as part of the local American Samoa National Olympic Committee.

Jamias is the Chairman of the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) Athletes and Youth Commissions, as well as the president of the local American Samoa Amateur Boxing Federation.

The ITO contacted Samoa News via-email to touch base about his experiences at the games. “The experience here is out of the world! It is serious business and cost a lot of money to get to this level,” he said.

In speaking on how well he believes American Samoa can do in certain sports at this high level of competition he said, “I believe we can do well in certain sports if we have government support. I believe we can do well in air rifle competition, team handball, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, rowing, volleyball, soccer and some other sports”. He added that the government can recruit some of these local athletes and have them train under the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“We also need to recruit other Samoan athletes from off- island. This can only be accomplished if the coaches are paid well by the government so they can concentrate 100% on coaching and not trying to make a living while only giving a little time to coaching. I currently wear three hats; Executive Committee Member of AIBA, Chairman of Athletes Commission and International Technical Official of which I am working as the referee/judges coordinator for the entire Olympics for boxing. It is hard work, but something I came mentally prepared to accomplish.”

According to Jamias, “Of the 27 ITOs selected for these Olympics, one died on his first day there and another was sent back home due to corruption, to make the total 25 to finish out the games.

“I am the only ITO from Oceania and I am even prouder because I am Samoan. There was only one part Samoan boy from Australia named Jai Opetaia fighting, who was only 17. He lost his first match by only one point in the 91kg class fighting the number three fighter in the world. Opetaia was the Junior World Champion (Under 17) last year. He is a force to be reckoned with in the future.

“I truly believe we can put men and women in the Olympics four years from now, God willing — if we work together and do away with the ‘I am better than you’ mentality. Our one goal is to wave the American Samoa flag globally,” Jamias concluded.



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