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Two Samoan Olympians to debut as Professional Boxers

Story by Gerwin Polu/ Photos by Steven Faoagali

APIA, SAMOA – 22 OCTOBER 2022: To represent ones country in an international sporting event, big or small is an experience that can be overwhelming to most.

It can be more so having represented Samoa since they were teenagers and have now become Olympians in their chosen sport. Now in their early twenties, they have gone through multiple international tournaments in the far reaches of the globe, from Jordan to China to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The Covid pandemic did not stop them from representing Samoa in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The boys have now become men in the sport they love, representing the country they have fought and bled for. Now they have chosen to turn professional and in front of a home crowd and people they have represented throughout the years.

Re-Introducing Tupuola Seua’i Ato Plodzcki-Faoagali and Faustino Marion Ah Tong, who have come through pain and struggles to bring home their debut Professional boxing bouts in a few weeks.

They will be making their professional debuts in Apia in the upcoming Next Generation Judgment Day 2022 Tournament on Saturday 26th November 2022.

Boxers 2
Boxers 2

Olympians Faustino Marion Ah Tong and Ato Plodzcki-Faoagali turning pro in a few weeks.

“Having my first professional fight in Samoa, really is a dream come true. No better place for a Samoan boxer to have his/her debut on home soil, in front of our own people,” says Ato Faoagali. “I am very excited to be able to debut my professional fight where my boxing life started. It has always been a dream, and for it to be happening real soon, is surreal,” added Marion.

Marion will be facing Fijian professional, Raturakuro Domocokai in the Middleweight division while Ato will be going against Apisa Naciqa, also of Fiji in the Cruiserweight division.

Ato is a double Silver Medalist in the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games. He won Gold in the Pacific Games 2019. Marion won Silver in the 2018 Oceania Youth Championship, Gold in the 2019 Pacific Games and Gold again the 2020 New Zealand Amateur Championships.

The young fighters share a common inspiration from another Samoan boxing icon Faumuina To’aletai Mafaufau David Tua. “He is all I use to watch when I was younger,” says Marion.

“My inspirations are my father, Marvin Hagler and David Tua,” said Ato.

Boxing ring
Boxing ring

Listening to some advice from the Unified World Champion George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos Jr.

The Next Generation Judgment Day 2022 is a Pro-Am Boxing Tournament that will not only feature Samoan Professional Debutants but will also bring in International Amateur teams from South Australia and New Zealand.

“This is a continuation of the Marist International Boxing events over the years. We bring in fighters from overseas so that our local boxers can have that experience. It not only benefits the boxers, but the coaches and officials,” said Tavu’i Mike Lemisio, Director of the upcoming event.

This all started back in 2015 when the Fight for Marist was instigated by the Marist St. Joseph Sports Club and Marist Brothers Old Pupils Association to revive the Samoa Boxing scene.

“We wanted to create a pathway for our boxers. So we started in the amateur side and now we are moving in to the Professional scene,” says Tavu’i.

“We want to make sure that if any of our youth chooses Boxing as a career, there will be a clear pathway for them to follow through these tournaments.”

Protégés from these tournaments include not only the Olympians Ato and Marion, but also up and coming boxers Jancen Papali’i and youngster Darius Poulava to name a few.

Boxing trio
Boxing trio

Marion, Ato and Jancen showing their Gold medals during the 2019 Pacific Games closing ceremony.

The Next Generation Judgment Day 2022 will also help preparation local and overseas teams attending the Oceania Youth Boxing Championship Samoa is hosting in February-March 2023.

“We continue to thank God for the focus and strength he has given us to be able to continue supporting our youth through these international tournaments,” says Tavu’i Mike Lemisio.

“We also would like to thank all the individuals, businesses and organizations who have supported us financially over the years. You have helped us get to where we are now and we continue to appreciate your support in the upcoming event.”

The Next Generation Judgment Day 2022 is sanctioned by the Samoa Boxing Federation and the South Pacific Boxing Professional Incorporated as confirmed by President Ale Vena Ale.