National MP Judith Collins has known Joseph Parker since his birth. As this good man from a good Kiwi-Samoan family prepares to fight for four world championship belts, let’s get in his corner, she writes.
This article was published in May 2018.
We like our heroes modest. We like them unassuming, courageous and just like us – except better. That’s why we like Joseph Parker.
On Sunday morning, NZ time, Joseph is going to be in the fight of his life when he is up against Anthony Joshua for the reunification bout for the WBA, IBF and WBO world championship titles.
In the crazy world of professional boxing, these various titles seem to get reunited and then, for what seems like strange reasons, split again.
I’ve known Joseph Parker’s parents, Dempsey and Sala from before Joseph was born. Both Dempsey and Sala were born in Samoa. Dempsey is my husband’s first cousin and Joseph has always called us Aunty and Uncle.
Joseph is Dempsey and Sala’s eldest child and brother to Elizabeth and John. Ever since they were little boys, Dempsey trained Joseph and John to box. Dempsey would have the boys training at the gym, learning the skills, learning the patience, building character.
If you’ve watched any of Joseph’s bouts, you will have seen Dempsey and Sala supporting their son every step of the way. You will have seen his brother, John in Joseph’s corner. You might have seen Elizabeth when she’s helping her brother by selling the Team Parker merchandise. They’ve always worked hard. They’ve saved to help Joseph, Elizabeth and John be educated and fulfil their dreams. Dempsey has, for many years, worked at the Steel mill at Glenbrook and Sala works at a school in Otara. They live in Mangere. They’re good people and they’re good parents.
We like that with Joseph, we get what we see. We like that he’s proof that Kiwi kids can be world champions. We like his friendly smile, his unfailing courtesy. We like that he loves the country of his parents’ birth and he loves the country of his birth. We like that he is a good son and a good brother. We like that he shows respect to his opponents. We like that he is a good man.
Joseph makes us proud.
The first time I attended live boxing was to support Joseph and his family.
From then on, we tried to attend every one of his New Zealand fights. We did that not because we loved boxing, but because we’re family.
At first, boxing seemed to me an incredibly brutal, primal business and I found I needed to shut my eyes – quite a lot. But, I have come to see it as a display of incredible fitness, perseverance, mental strength, skill and courage. It’s still brutal but it also has beauty.
It has danger, but then so does life.
I’m asking that we New Zealanders get behind Joseph, in this hugely important fight. This is the biggest fight for any Kiwi. He’s a long way from home. He’s in Wales. He needs our support.
I don’t need to ask Samoa, as the whole of Samoa is with Joseph. But we Kiwis can be proud of Joseph too. He’s the role model for so many kids with dreams.
He has one world championship and he’s on track to be the undisputed world champion. Let’s be with him.
Judith Collins is National MP for Papakura