Naliva Broth­ers Con­tinue Box­ing Legacy

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By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos IVAMERE ROKOVESA & SUP­PLIED

THEIR late fa­ther was once the heavy­weight box­ing cham­pion of Fiji. Con­tes­tants in the ring re­garded Fil­imoni Naliva (Snr) as hav­ing a knock­out punch and no mercy for his op­po­nents. He was the king of the ring at a time when Fiji dom­i­nated the South Pa­cific re­gion in box­ing. Broth­ers Save­naca, 30, and Fil­imoni Naliva (Jnr), 24, are at­tempt­ing to match their late fa­ther’s achieve­ments in the box­ing arena. It may be a feat dif­fi­cult to achieve but they say there is no harm in try­ing. Their dad had the late Tui Ba Ratu Marika La­tia­nara, also one of Fiji’s best box­ers, to look up to as a trainer and also the late Vu­ni­ivi Nad­umu. These box­ing greats were from Sorokoba Vil­lage in the prov­ince of Ba. Ratu Marika, who trained Fil­imoni Naliva (Snr), had a song ti­tled Vasu ni Na­macuku com­posed in hon­our of his power punches. The lyrics were com­posed by the peo­ple of Lu­tu­nairi a set­tle­ment just out­side Sorokoba Vil­lage in the tik­ina of Bulu. Part of the song goes: Na i vacu sa vadugu (Punches are re­ver­ber­at­ing) Duri cake na vasu ni Na­macuku (he’s re­ferred to as the vasu of Na­macuku, since the late Ratu Marika’s mother is from the Na­macuku clan, the peo­ple of Na­macuku should stand tall and be proud.) Marika dau doka, na i vacu ni wai levu o Ba (re­spect should be given as Ratu Marika has the power punches from the prov­ince of Ba). It is be­cause of these two iconic char­ac­ters from their vil­lage that the two broth­ers took up box­ing in 2010, start­ing out as am­a­teurs. “When I first started tak­ing an in­ter­est, my fa­ther was still around and I asked if it was a good idea to do so and he

agreed,” Save­naca said. His younger brother, Fil­imoni was not too keen about the sport then but he was a spar­ring part­ner for his big brother, box­ing with him dur­ing train­ing ses­sions. “Af­ter help­ing my brother train, it made me look at the sport in a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive so in 2013 I too started out as an am­a­teur boxer,” Fil­imoni said. “I later re­alised box­ing is the sport for me be­cause my fa­ther and grand­fa­ther made names for them­selves in the box­ing arena. “We can­not de­vi­ate from box­ing, it runs in the blood, it is in our fam­ily.” Last month the broth­ers trained in the vil­lage for their pro­fes­sional match on June 30 in Nadi. On June 30, Save­naca won his fight against Tom Gau­navou on unan­i­mous points while Fil­imoni (Jnr) in his de­but fight, beat his Burmese op­po­nent Edriel Thein af­ter he threw in the towel dur­ing the sec­ond round. Af­ter win­ning both their re­cent fights in Nadi last month, it seems the two broth­ers are on track in achiev­ing the record that box­ing leg­ends from the vil­lage of Sorokoba have set es­pe­cially with Fil­imoni (Jnr) who seems to have in­her­ited his late fa­ther’s knock­out punch. “This is a good start for me and I in­tend to keep that mo­men­tum up. When i was fight­ing last month, I had my fa­ther on my mind all the time prob­a­bly be­cause i am named af­ter him,” Fil­imoni (Jnr) said. The two broth­ers are grate­ful to their trainer and for­mer Bri­tish Army sol­dier Richard Le­wav­inaka and the youths from the vil­lage for their sup­port and prayers. “We are proud of the boys con­sid­er­ing that we dont have proper box­ing fa­cil­i­ties in the vil­lage, they have come out vic­to­ri­ous,” Le­wav­inaka said.

Save­naca Naliva Fil­imoni Naliva (Jnr)

Fil­imoni Naliva Snr. Fil­imoni Naliva (Snr) af­ter one of his fights back in the day. The late Tui Ba Ratu Marika La­tia­nara who in­spired and trained the late Fil­imoni Naliva (Snr) - the fa­ther of the Naliva broth­ers. The late Tui Ba Ratu Marika La­tia­nara in his younger days.

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