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SportsJune 7, 2022

Watch: Ali Afakasi could have been one of boxing’s greats

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Before multi-million dollar endorsements and prize money, before Joseph Parker and David Tua, there was Ali Afakasi.

Before the knockout punch is a seamless duck, his opponent’s glove whistling past his left ear. Ali Afakasi, in his prime, stands back up, takes one step to the right and delivers a right hook straight to the nose of Ross Eadie. Eadie goes down immediately and doesn’t get back up. Afakasi takes the Australasian title and is one step closer to being world champion.

Born in Vaigaga, Sāmoa, Afakasi grew up in a country where boxing was the major sport. Fight nights in Apia were well-attended and Afakasi was a favourite. By the time he moved to Auckland as a teenager to work, he was projected to go far and as former boxing promoter Mike Edwards said, “he came across to me as a technician, an intelligent fighter, and he had the right temperament.”

But sometimes having the skills, the temperament and the work ethic still aren’t enough to make it in sports. Luck is a factor too, and Ali Afakasi’s boxing career was punctuated with bad luck. First a weight rule lost in translation at the Commonwealth Games, then a now-defunct head clash rule cutting his title advance short right as he was hitting his stride.

There’s a proud history of Sāmoan New Zealand boxers with David Tua and Joseph Parker the most know. But before either of them, back when boxing was a side hustle for even the world’s best, was Ali Afakasi.

Watch the full series of Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends now. Made with support from NZ On Air.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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