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American Samoa to be represented at Youth Olympics for first time in boxing

Elite boxer, Falaniko Tauta
The one thing standing in the way is funding

(FP TOP) Falaniko Tauta_0531.jpg



by Ausage Fausia

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) has officially announced that local elite boxer, Falaniko Tauta has qualified to represent American Samoa during the 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina.

According to President of the American Samoa Boxing Federation (ASBF), Paepaetele Mapu Jamias, Tauta will be the first local fighter to represent the territory at the Youth Olympics.

In a letter to the President of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC), Ed Imo, AIBA Executive Director Tom Virgets confirmed that Tauta is now qualified for this year’s Youth Olympics set to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 6- 18.

Virgets' Aug. 16, 2018 letter to Imo confirmed that Tauta will compete in the Men’s Welterweight Division, 69kg, with other elite fighters from around the world.

Paepaetele told Samoa News via email this week that Tauta’s chance to compete in the Youth Olympics came after an outstanding performance during the International Training Competition held in Australia in April 2017, where two of our local fighters took part in this training: Tauta and Jeffrey Tago.

“The good news for us is that Tauta is now qualified for the Youth Olympics in Argentina next year. I know it's a hard path, but I salute him for his great effort. The road to the Olympics is not an easy one. An athlete must first prove himself that he/ she can do the job, and after some tough training and sacrificing a lot of his life to this sport, Tauta is making his way to the next level and I’m so proud of him,” said Paepaetele.

Folowing the International Training Competition in Australia last year, the AIBA tested Tauta's skills by giving him the chance to compete against top elite fighters from around the Pacific, including New Zealand and Australia during the Oceania Championships held in Samoa earlier this year in May.

Tauta took home the bronze medal but still got the ok to move on to the Youth Olympics.

While Tauta’s preparations for the Youth Olympics continues, the huge issue before the ASBF right now is a source of funding to pay for Tauta and his coaching staff to travel to Argentina.

Tauta’s longtime coach, Sala Sanele Etuale, along with ASBF vice president, Okesene Malala, who is the first American Samoan to hold a 2-Star Coach Certificate from AIBA, are currently working to assist Tauta with his preparations for the Olympics.

“I can’t express the joy I feel when Tauta achieves his goals as a boxer,” Sala told Samoa News.

The road hasn’t been an easy one for this young athlete. According to Sala, Tauta started boxing when he was in elementary. He began competing when he was 12 years old, and with the support of his family, he continued to fight until he was considered one of the best local elite fighters last year.

In December 2016, Tauta was part of the 10-man squad from American Samoa invited to compete in the Samoa Games Boxing International Championships in Samoa, where he won his first gold medal in the middleweight division.

Building up his talents and his skills, Tauta continued to prove himself in boxing, when he won his second gold medal during the Oceania Boxing Championships, again in Samoa in February 2017, which opened the door for him to be part of the International Training Competition in Australia in April last year, where he won his third gold medal.

“Boxing is tough but if Tauta does his homework, trains hard, and is ready at any time, I know for sure he will do good this year, and I wish him luck,” said Malala.

The 18-year-old boxer told Samoa News that going to the Youth Olympics to represent his country is not an easy task.

“The burden is on my shoulders now. It’s not an easy thing to think about. Being a flag carrier for our country is something huge and I have to sacrifice everything in order for me to win something for my country and my family. This is not about me going to the Olympics to fight and come back. This is something about one person who is going to battle while the country is praying, supporting, and hoping for a positive ending," Tauta told Samoa News.

“This is the event of my life and I have to train hard and give all I can to make sure I am 100% ready for the challenge. I know it’s not easy but if I train hard and continue to stay fit and focused, the results will be positive,” Tauta concluded.