Devlin: Sports helped shape my life

Fiji Sun - - SPORTS - LEONE CABENATABU­A Edited by Percy Kean Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

FOR­MER RUGBY, SQUASH & BAS­KET­BALL PLAYER TELLS HOW HE OVER­CAME HIS TROU­BLED PAST TO MAKE IT IN LIFE

Devlin said even though he didn’t fin­ish his ed­u­ca­tion, he had worked for quite a wide spec­trum of jobs from travel agen­cies, ho­tel man­age­ment, build­ing...

At the age of 73, Devlin Chung (for­merly known as Ah Sam) is now en­gaged as a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and a men­tor to many young peo­ple.

Re­tired and set­tled in Bris­bane, Aus­tralia, Devlin has been do­ing this af­ter he left the work­force more than 10 years ago.

Go through his Face­book page and you’ll see how he has be­come a guid­ing light to many peo­ple who have read his mo­ti­va­tional speeches.

Early be­gin­ning

Devlin said he was an Ah Sam since birth, but changed his deed poll to his an­ces­tral name Chung since his grand­fa­ther came from Kwang­tung Prov­ince in China. He was ed­u­cated at Marist Pri­mary School (MPS) and Marist Brothers High School (MBHS) in Suva at­tain­ing a GCE (Gen­eral Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion) in 1965.

“When my fa­ther died and I didn’t com­plete my ed­u­ca­tion and started out in the work­force,” Devlin re­called.

Char­ac­ter build­ing

But it was at school that he played rugby. It started at MPS and went on to MBHS.

“By play­ing rugby I dis­cov­ered it had an im­mense in­flu­ence and de­vel­oped my char­ac­ter. I en­joyed rugby so much that I didn’t mind the rough stuff meted out to me be­ing the only Chi­na­man play­ing this sport dur­ing my era,” Devlin said.

“I forged great friend­ships with many, many Fi­jian rugby play­ers who re­spected me while some wanted me to be stretched off in matches.

“That didn’t hap­pen as I used skills, guts, and cun­ning­ness to evade the rough stuff and kept play­ing de­spite the late and bla­tant tac­tics many Fi­jian lad dished out on me.”

Devlin was in the MBHS first-ever sec­ondary schools Deans Tro­phy cham­pi­ons squad in 1965.

“I was taught the ba­sic skills of rugby by New Zealand Marist Brothers, but lit­tle did any of my col­leagues or op­po­si­tion play­ers knew I utilised mar­tial arts tech­nique to sus­tain my play­ing ca­reer and never got badly in­jured at all,” he said.

“These skills I used to max­i­mum ad­van­tage by in­jur­ing play­ers who un­der­es­ti­mated me for my small physique.

“But, how­ever, lethal when tack­ling play­ers in the most del­i­cate and vul­ner­a­ble parts of the anatomy us­ing my shoul­ders ef­fec­tively.”

Open­ing door

In 1974, Devlin broke the then world squash marathon record at the De­fence Club in Suva, af­ter he played for 62 hours and 15 min­utes. “I was also in a team of 10 Marist Old Boys who raised more than $10,000 for char­ity in a 30-hour bas­ket­ball marathon dur­ing the late sev­en­ties,” he said.

The squash world record opened up the door for Devlin to the United King­dom.

“I was given a visa to visit the UK on a work­ing hol­i­day as guest of Guin­ness Brew­ery and lived for well over three years work­ing for the Fiji High Com­mis­sion at the end.,” Devlin said.

“Dur­ing this stint, I met the Queen at West­min­ster Abbey as Fiji’s flag bearer dur­ing the Com­mon­wealth Day cel­e­bra­tion in 1976 as well as vis­it­ing Buck­ing­ham Palace for the Gar­den Tea Party in 1977.”

Life in Lon­don

In Lon­don, Devlin played rugby for Har­lequins Rugby Club to­gether with the leg­endary Pio Bosco Tikoisuva, Ratu Isoa Ga­vidi and Te­vita Ta­mani.

“It was still the am­a­teur days and so our ef­forts and ded­i­ca­tion were sheer en­joy­ment and re­cre­ation mak­ing great re­lax­ation from a tor­rid day in the of­fice and other per­sonal is­sues of stress and wor­ries,” he said.

“I played full­back the last line of de­fence and hence many of my mates de­pended on me to stop any tries be­ing scored and hence I earned the nick­name of ‘Kamikaze’.

“I was never shy to tackle any player big or small, but I sure learned the or­tho­dox tech­niques taught by Brother Wal­ter in my first year at high school rugby in the midget grade.”

Devlin played for Har­lequins for only a year. but never in the first team with only Bosco in his rep­u­ta­tion as a Fiji rep.

How­ever, he along with Ratu Isoa and Ta­mani played for the fourth grade.

“I sub­se­quently got ap­proached to play for the Lon­don Cor­nish 1st team as full­back where we de­mol­ished them, hence they asked me to change al­le­giance to their club which I did,” he said.

“Lo and be­hold, when Po­lice­man Enele Malele and young Aisake Ka­toni­vere ar­rived in Lon­don to study, they both joined my team and to­gether we won many vic­to­ries to­gether.

“While with Har­lequins, we toured Hol­land to play the Dutch Com­man­dos and won quite con­vinc­ingly with Bosco be­ing the hero.”

Life chal­lenges

Devlin said these won­der­ful sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ences which took him to for­eign coun­tries con­trib­uted to his de­vel­op­ment of knowl­edge and wis­dom as the most life-chang­ing part of his life.

“I would re­it­er­ate that not all of my ex­pe­ri­ences was a bliss and hap­pi­ness,” he said.

“As a teenager, I suf­fered sex­ual abuse in my mid-teens, do­mes­tic violence in my fam­ily while grow­ing up, prostate can­cer surgery in 2006, in­cur­ring di­a­betes in 2004, and walk­ing out of my mar­riage in 2008.

But I re­turned home to rec­on­cile with my wife for the sake of my two sons who have grown up since and I’m about to be a grand­par­ent in Au­gust.

“I lit­er­ally es­caped five neardeath ex­pe­ri­ences while spearfish­ing and live to tell the tale.”

Way for­ward

Devlin said de­spite not hav­ing a men­tor af­ter fin­ish­ing high school, but his rugby coach and for­mer Brother Wal­ter now known as Lloyd Pratt was a great in­flu­ence in his life as he taught him English and Maths.

Devlin said even though he didn’t fin­ish his ed­u­ca­tion, he had worked for quite a wide spec­trum of jobs from travel agen­cies, ho­tel man­age­ment, build­ing, and con­struc­tion, diplo­matic es­tab­lish­ments, jewelry man­u­fac­tur­ers, car ren­tal agen­cies, and one or two oth­ers in a small ca­pac­ity.

“Most of these jobs were of­fered to me due to be­ing well-known in Fiji through my sport­ing achieve­ments and so­cial con­nec­tions,” he said.

“Just see­ing young sport­ing en­thu­si­asts achiev­ing their suc­cess through sports for­ti­fies their char­ac­ter to a great degree of adapt­abil­ity for what­ever they wish to pe­ruse in their life af­ter sports ca­reers.”

Devlin feels for many young peo­ple, es­pe­cially in Fiji who are in some ways be­ing ham­strung and not be­ing able to de­velop their knowl­edge, wis­dom, and ex­pe­ri­ence for a far greater degree of evo­lu­tion into a to­tally new do­main of ca­reers and be very suc­cess­ful at it. “The Fi­jian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem must evolve for change for hu­man re­sources nu­ance whereby cul­ture, race, or re­li­gious lean­ings would ham­per the progress of hu­man qual­i­ties and be viewed as a lov­ing co­he­sive na­tion re­gard­less of our eth­nic makeup,” he said.

“The tin­kling of the hu­man mind will in­evitably have a deeper im­pact on the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pects of hu­man de­vel­op­ment, thus bring­ing about achieve­ments of higher suc­cesses.”

Devlin added that from his sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and the ex­po­sure that comes with it has made him a to­tally re­cov­ered per­son who suf­fered a lot in the past while grow­ing up.

“I no longer ex­pe­ri­ence such emo­tions and trau­mas in present-day life but en­joy a happy and con­tented life like no other, as neg­a­tive out­comes are no longer liv­ing night­mares of any hu­man lives if we fol­lowed right­eous paths of pos­i­tive liv­ing stan­dards,” he added.

From left: Ilimeleki Nabou, Devlin Chung, Dan Loben­dahn and Ato­nio Racika dur­ing the 2010 Marist Old Boys re­union in Suva.

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