Naliva Brothers Continue Boxing Legacy
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.