‘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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