UFC’s James Te Huna fights against bullying
Mixed martial arts heavyweight and former Kiwi UFC star James Te Huna is fighting back against bullying.
The 34-year-old has teamed up with Central Otago online anti-bullying group Sticks ‘n’ Stones in their latest campaign dubbed #beagamechanger, which targets bullying in sport.
Former Silver Ferns shooter Catherine Tuivaiti, nee Latu, and former All Black Victor Vito have also agreed to back the campaign.
Speaking from his home in Sydney last week, Te Huna said the campaign appealed to him as he had experienced bullying through social media, especially when he started losing.
‘‘I’ve been in the public eye with what I have done and in the last couple of years I had a couple of losses and copped a bit of it.
‘‘It’s not good at all.’’
Having spent five years in Alexandra as a youngster, Te Huna said when he was approached by the Sticks ‘n’ Stones group to get involved, he had no hesitation.
‘‘I thought it was a great idea and I’m always going to back anti-bullying.’’
Te Huna said creating an awareness for youngsters that bullying was ‘‘not OK’’ was really important.
‘‘It’s out there and it’s real.’’ Making sure people ‘‘were on the right path’’, whether the perpetrator or the victim of bullying, was key, he said.
Te Huna retired from all MMA fighting in May after losing his final four UFC fights.
Sticks ‘n’ Stones member and Dunstan High School pupil Harry Johnston, 17, said having Te Huna, Tuivaiti and Vito backing their campaign was great.
‘‘I guess it just shows that it’s more than a wee Central Otago group trying to make awareness,’’ he said.
Programme facilitator and co-founder Karla Sanders said they were ‘‘pretty lucky’’ having Te Huna back their campaign.
‘‘It’s really important to us that the people we are using are in the public area, [and] he takes his position as a role model really seriously.’’
Sanders believed having high-profile people spread the anti-bullying message would make an impact.
‘‘What we’re looking to do is make an impact with on-thefield behaviour as well as off.’’
Sticks ‘n’ Stones is a pupil-led project managed by Central Otago REAP, set up to take positive action online to reduce cyber bullying.
Former UFC star James Te Huna is behind anti-bullying group Sticks ‘n’ Stones’ latest campaign.