Devlin: Sports helped shape my life
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.