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Team American Samoa wins 3 medals at the Tri-Nation Boxing Championships

A look at the team that represented American Samoa at the 2-day Tri-Nation Championship in independent Samoa last week. The event was part of the preparations for the Pacific Mini Games set to be held in Vanuatu next month. [SN file photo]

American Samoa's boxing team returned home over the weekend with one Silver and two Bronze medals from the Tri-Nation Boxing Championships held in Apia, Samoa last week. Four local boxers — 3 males and 1 female — from the American Samoa Amateur Boxing Association (ASABA) represented the territory at the two-day event.

The team returned last week Friday to a 'welcome home' crowd of family members and close friends gathered at the Pago Pago International Airport.

Alofa Mataafa brought home the Silver, while Alesana Alesana and Orlando Taala each secured a Bronze medal.

The lone female boxer, Elizabeth Tuavale — who was undefeated prior to last week's tournament — lost her bout against a tough opponent from New Zealand.

Head coach Sala Sanele Etuale, a former boxer that represented both Samoa and American Samoa in previous years, was excited when he spoke to Samoa News about the team's accomplishments.

"They exceeded all my expectations and did well for a small team," he said. "There were all sorts of emotions going through my head as the team headed into the final bouts. They dug deep and we are really happy, pleased to get the opportunity to get our hands on the trophy.”

Sala said the whole purpose of sending local boxers to international competitions like the Tri-Nation and the 2-Samoas Battle, is to develop the young ones in the sport.

He said the ASABA is trying to develop the younger generation in boxing, "so when they grow up, they are good at it.” Another reason, he continued, is so young people will develop an interest in the sport.

When asked about the next tournament for our local team, Sala said they will take a one week break before getting together for their usual training, to prepare them for remaining tournaments on the agenda this year, to include the upcoming Pacific Mini Games set to be held in Vanuatu next month.

“Our training sessions will resume next week to prepare our team for the next challenge, and that will be a good chance for new boxers who just joined the Association last month, to train together with our seasoned boxers — those who have been in the sport for a long time,” Sala shared.

According to Sala, the ASABA team really showed their mettle during the two-day tournament in Samoa, competing against top fighters from New Zealand and Samoa.

American Samoa’s first medal at the tournament — a Bronze — came from one of the new warriors, Alesana Alesana in the 69kg division. Alesana dominated the first 2 minutes of the first round of the match, throwing some hard punches, connecting some good combinations with double jabs, followed by a powerful right hand to the body and head, which caused his opponent to fall down while holding his stomach with both hands. Alesana won by TKO when his opponent was unable to continue the fight. This is the first medal of his boxing career.

For the ladies division, Elisapeta Tuavale lost during a bronze medal match against an opponent from New Zealand in points, in the women’s super heavyweight division.

American Samoa’s second medal, another Bronze — by unanimous decision — came after all three judges agreed that Orlando Taala was too good for his opponent in the 75kg division. Like Alesana, this is Orlando's first medal of his boxing career.

Alofa Mataafa secured the third medal for Team American Samoa — a Silver — in the 81kg division. Mataafa used his height and experience to dominate his final bout of the night, landing a few solid jabs on his opponent within seconds after the first bell went off.

“Not only does he know how to start strong, he finished off his opponent in the third round when he powered through and pounded his opponent with body shots until the fight was called, adding up another medal for American Samoa,” said Sala.

Congratulations Team American Samoa!