‘Noth­ing but gold’

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By BEN ROGERS

PADDY Leuii is like a man pos­sessed when he works the box­ing bag.

His pow­er­ful blows send it fly­ing in all di­rec­tions and shake the room.

All that train­ing will soon be put to good use when the 19-year-old Mt Roskill res­i­dent heads to the Com­mon­wealth Games.

Leuii was born in New Zealand but will rep­re­sent Samoa – a na­tion that is close to his heart.

‘‘It means a lot to me,’’ he says.

‘‘I love the idea of rep­re­sent­ing my coun­try in a mas­sive tour­na­ment on the world stage.’’

The ex-Mt Roskill Gram­mar stu­dent trav­elled to Samoa to com­pete against its very best ear­lier this year. He won those bouts and went on to Amer­i­can Samoa for his first rep­re­sen­ta­tive fight.

Win­ning earned him the right to rep­re­sent Samoa in Glas­gow.

Paddy is train­ing seven days a week at his Mt Roskill gym, sup­ported by his dad and coach Sa­muela Leuii. Sa­muela rep­re­sented Samoa at the 1996 At­lanta Olympics and hopes to head to Glas­gow with his son.

‘‘I want to be with him, he has never had a fight with­out me, I am al­ways in his cor­ner,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s an hon­our to have my son rep­re­sent­ing Samoa, I am so happy for him.’’

Both Paddy and his dad are con­fi­dent he’ll come away with a medal – and there’s only one colour on their minds.

‘‘We are only go­ing for one medal and that’s gold,’’ Sa­muela says. ‘‘It’s time to make some his­tory be­cause Samoa hasn’t won a gold in box­ing at the games.’’

The is­land na­tion came close at the 1994 Com­mon­wealth Games when Bob Ga­sio fought his way to the sil­ver medal.

‘‘I’m go­ing for noth­ing but gold, that’s the goal, the only goal,’’ Paddy says.

Paddy had his first fight when he was 14.

‘‘Box­ing has kept me out of trou­ble, I never want to street-fight and I have never had a school fight,’’ Paddy says.

‘‘When some­one asks me for a fight I know to walk away, there is no need to fight be­cause there is noth­ing to prove.

‘‘It teaches you dis­ci­pline.’’

Paddy loves the tech­ni­cal side of box­ing.

that –

‘‘When you’re in the ring it’s like play­ing chess, it’s not re­ally fight­ing, there’s more to it,’’ he says.

‘‘You have to be think­ing all the time about what punch your op­po­nent is go­ing to throw next and then counter it.’’

Paddy will fight in the su­per-heavy­weight di­vi­sion for fight­ers over 91kg at the games.

‘‘I fight the re­ally boys,’’ he laughs.

He isn’t ex­ag­ger­at­ing — he has sparred with New Zealand’s most promis­ing box­ing tal­ent Joseph Parker who stands 1.92 me­tres tall.

Paddy cer­tainly doesn’t

big con­sider him­self a brawler and prefers to avoid punches and wait for the right mo­ment to strike, rem­i­nis­cent of the box­ers he looks up to and ad­mires.

‘‘I love Muhammad Ali’s ringcraft, how he just moves and avoid punches,’’ he says.

So far Paddy has fought 11 fights and won eight of them.

His younger brother An­drew is also an up-and­com­ing fighter who will be rep­re­sent­ing Samoa at next year’s Youth Com­mon­wealth Games.

The ul­ti­mate goal for Paddy and his fa­ther will be to make it to the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Photo: BEN ROGERS

Pow­er­house: Paddy Leuii is de­ter­mined to take gold at the Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games.

– Paddy Leuii

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