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The search is on for aspiring local boxers

Seen here are local boxing officials with some of the new boxers, who may just fulfill their dreams of becoming future champions for American Samoa. See story for full details.  [photo: AF]

The American Samoa Amateur Boxing Association (ASABA) is taking a huge step in promoting boxing around the territory, by launching a recruitment program to sign up young and new fighters to take on the sport.

Within the first month since the program was launched, about a dozen young new local boxers who have shown interest in becoming fighters have been recruited.

However, recruitment efforts continue as the ASABA is working closely with all the local boxing clubs under its umbrella, to promote the program.

Speaking to Samoa News last week, ASABA head coach and trainer, Sala Sanele Etuale said the main purpose of the recruiting program is to draw the attention of young people around the island, who have the talent, to become boxers.

“I want to see many young people come out and join the sport. Boxing is about believing in yourself, and if you feel that you want to represent your country through boxing, this is your chance to join us.

“We will train you and make sure you will become an elite boxer and a real champion in the future,” said Sala, who added that boxing is one of the many sports that people around the world love to watch, and American Samoa needs to recruit more young people to train, to become good fighters in the future.

“A lot of fighters who are representing American Samoa in boxing nowadays at the international level are from neighboring Samoa, and when it comes to international boxing rules, we face a lot of problems because World Boxing does not allow a fighter from one country to represent another,” Sala explained.

An example of this is the case of Kaisa Ioane, a Samoa-born fighter who has been fighting for American Samoa for over 3 years now, but was unable to represent American Samoa during the Oceania Championships last June in Australia, because he’s a Samoa National.

“I have no problem with fighters from Samoa who want to come here and fight for our country. I always look at us and Samoa — as one people — under two different flags, but my point is very clear — we need to recruit more young people from American Samoa…” said Sala.

As a result, to put a stop to the problem, the ASABA is working hard to recruit more young fighters who were born in American Samoa.

“I see a lot of youth who want to join boxing, but the problem is — they are pushed by their parents to play sports, such as football, that can give them opportunities to receive scholarships to go off island and pursue a career,” said Sala.

“It’s our job to promote boxing and to allow our young people to learn the basic rules, just to give them an idea of how cool boxing is,” he noted.

One of the ‘new’ boxers who enlisted in the Mapusaga Fou Boxing Club, told Samoa News that it is his dream to become a fighter in the future.

“My grandfather was a fighter during his time,” said Alfred Talosaga, 17, of Mapusaga Fou. “When I was a young boy, my grandfather encouraged me to join our village boxing club to become a fighter like him, and it was my dream to become a fighter one day.”

Talosaga is a senior at Tafuna High School where he is a member of the varsity football team.

“The reason why I wanted to join our village’s boxing club, was not only to follow my grandfather’s footsteps, but I also wanted to learn how to keep the peace in the family, and be someone who sets good examples for other young people in my village,” said Talosaga.

“I grew up learning from my teachers that sports is education,” he said. “In fact it is another way of attracting the minds of students to school. Basically, everything is education.”

According to Talosaga, joining boxing is a good experience, especially when you get to meet new people and make friends with other young people from various boxing clubs.

“Sports is another way for the government to get the message out to the youth about how to address challenges of life,” he said, adding that sports, like boxing, should be developed hand in hand with education.

Talosaga's advice for youth who are still not sure what to do in life: “Stay focused and keep working hard. Keep your promises, move forward, and always prioritize.”

While boxing is one of the growing sports in American Samoa nowadays, members of the community still believe the government needs to assist, by providing good facilities for the sport to be revived.

One parent said the major problem the local Boxing Association is facing is the lack of a permanent facility to host competitions.

“There are a lot of boxers in American Samoa but the main problem is there are no solid facilities to train our boxers to become good in the sport.

“We have a boxing ring at the Maliu Mai Beach Resort, but that is not a permanent ring. Kids are training in their own clubs under breadfruit trees, and if we continue to train our boxers like that, we will never see the sport moving forward (on island).

“It’s about time for our government to donate more money to develop our sports,” said Alfred Viliamu, a former boxer and a trainer for the Maliu Mai Boxing Club.