OPINION - Seti Afoa
Pictorial / Flickr
New born hope for the World
It has been a gloomy year. Mega losses of colossal characters – gone are Super artists Prince, David Bowie, George Michael and I’d like to insert in here a favourite, Canadian musician Leonard Cohen. And that is only the singers. There is also Muhammad Ali the greatest boxer the world has known and some would argue the biggest loss of the year. There is eccentric actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, the beloved Gene Wilder of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory fame, and Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia of Star Wars franchise.
That is only the echelon of the international list, there are many more. In the local scene NZ bid haere ra to some of our beloved people: cricketer Martin Crowe, international singer Ray Columbus, Maori leader Sir Graham Latimer, Unionist Hellen Kelly, author and academic Dr Ranginui Walker, and music pioneer Bill Sevesi who died at 92 years of age.
Fisher’s passing on December 27th hit particularly hard. Hers was the second celebrity death in two days. It was becoming too many. British superstar George Michael died two days earlier in his home on Christmas day.
Many others of renown whose contribution to the world earned superstar status throughout their life. But such is our focus and partiality toward the superfluous that the exaggerated world of entertainment is top of mind for most of us. Guilty! Even the list of the famous in any publication is 90/10 filled with entertainers.
It says a lot about us. The pseudo realism entertainment offers through its stars is our escape from the actuality that is our everyday existence.
Who makes up the death list for the year anyway and who is in the list for next year? The reality is, come this time next year, we will sit back and reflect on the big names taken from us in 2017. It’s a frightening thought. I could be on that list, and I am not a celebrity.
I remember vividly my own encounter with death’s list a few years ago. It wasn’t my mother, or my father, but my older brother’s passing at 45 years of age in 2004 that bothered me immensely. I remember articulating then, that death by vote among family members is my preference. If God met with us as a family and told us one of us had to go I would have volunteered gladly in place of my brother Palepua. He was that much more important to the family than I was. He was funny, generous, successful, loved by all. He had no enemies and was well respected.
Just as well death by vote is not how it is. The system would be hijacked by a super villain for sure.
It’s odd how these kinds of lists materialise in the last month of the year. Is that why Santa Claus also keeps a list? In a word, Yes! Santa’s list rewards the people who are good all year. Perhaps those who do not make Santa’s list are shortlisted for the Reaper. Who knows?
In the end Death is no respecter of persons. Nor is birth, and this is my point.
Quite aside from the entertainers, there are the real contributors to humankind. The chemist, the scientist, the explorer, philosopher, statesman and woman, entrepreneur, astronaut and more. They are born today.
There are more world changers born this day, today, than are the famous taken from us. The new world changers are unknown and yet to utter a word. They are cradled in anonymity somewhere in a hospital bassinet. Some may not be so lucky but will grow up to change their world. These children will create history, change it, make it, and their lives will impact the world in their own callings and talents. After all, when you see a child, they are here to replace us.
The sad loss of Carrie Fisher and George Michael so close together really jolted me to think of the flip side. There is one.
Fisher’s contribution to entertainment is out of this world, if you are a Star Wars fanatic. She is also a witty writer read by many. While she has gone, there are others who were born the same year as Fisher and who impacted the world like her, if not more so.
Fisher was born in October 1956. Born in the same month and year and also now 60 years of age is Mae Jemison - engineer, Physics academic and NASA astronaut. She is the real life version of Fisher in Star Wars. She actually went to space. There is more! Jemison shattered global glass ceilings when she went to space, she is the first African American woman to do so (Endeavour, 1992). Talk about a world-changer. She is worthy of a hashtag - #MaeJemison #WorldChanger #Woman #AfricanAmerican #SpaceTraveller.
There is more and some! There are five living world leaders who were also born in October 1956 – Theresa May (PM, United Kingdom), Nicanor Duarte (President, Paraguay), Tran Dai Quang (President, Vietnam), Andrus Ansnip (PM, Estonia) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (6th President of Iran). All are the same age as Fisher. May and Quang are incumbent leaders, and the others have served their terms. All are world changers.
Early in 1956 Susan Solomon was born. She is the Atmospheric chemist who defined the workings of the Ozone layer and the depleted protection shield that protects the earth from the sun’s ultra-violet radiation. She postulated a plan of attack to repair the hole in the Ozone above the Antarctic. She is currently Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate Science at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Her work is inspirational.
Tennis player Martina Navratilova was born the same month in 1956, as did Italian Physician Carlo Urbani. Urbani was the first to identify SARS as a mega disease (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that would haunt the world. He was infected by it and later died (2003), but his work activated a WHO (World Health Organisation) worldwide response that saved millions of lives from SARS.
Other world changers were born the same year – Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (May), Patricia Cornwell (author) and Roderick MacKinnon (Chemist, Nobel Prize Winner 2003). Astronaut David Brown too was born the same year as Fisher (died in the Columbia disaster 2003).
The list goes on. Combined, the knowledge that was birthed in the year 1956 helped change the world.
The number of world changers born this day in 2016 at least doubles that of 1956. The population then stood at 2.8billion compared with 7.4b today. You do the math as the saying goes.
More hope is born this day than is taken. There are more chemists, discoverers, scientists, authors, academics, physicians, world leaders and yes - Entertainers and Sporting heroes of the future avail to us this day. They are completely unknown and yet to utter a word. They will discover new science, explore more, write more, cure more and so on. They will change the world as we know it today.
Part 3 of 3 of my interview with David Higgins of Duco Events. In Part 3, I raise the possibility of Samoa hosting Parker's first WBO Title defense. There are a lot of merits here. Refer to my earlier article on this site the day after Joseph's win.
Martin Snedden fronts the media at the Joseph Parker vs Solomon Haumono Weigh-in in Christchurch.
Duco Events announced this morning the resignation of Martin Snedden as its CEO after two years with the company.
The 58-year-old broke the news to staff on Tuesday, following Joseph Parker’s historic WBO Heavyweight Championship win over the weekend.
Mr Snedden’s final day with the company will be next Friday, December 23.
“Joseph’s win over Andy Ruiz last Saturday night nicely bookends my two years at Duco Events,” said Mr Snedden.
“When I started working with David Higgins and Dean Lonergan in 2014, the objectives were to move Joseph from a boxing ranking outside the top 15 to a world championship title."
“We wanted to break into boxing promotion in Australia, while also delivering an NRL Nines event which showcased the sport and Auckland City."
“I leave Duco next week knowing those objectives have been fully or substantially achieved.”
Mr Snedden arrived at Duco Events in 2014 with arguably the best sports administration CV in the country but says he leaves having learned an enormous amount.
“Seeing first hand, the creativity, drive, willingness to break new ground, and determination to succeed amongst a small group of staff is something to behold.”
They have given me some amazing experiences and we part on great terms,” said Mr Snedden.
Director Dean Lonergan says Mr Snedden leaves Duco Events in the strongest position it has ever been heading into 2017.
“Martin has all our best wishes as he seeks new challenges. However, it will be ‘business as normal’ for Duco in 2017,” said Mr Lonergan.
Duco Director and Founder, David Higgins will continue his role overseeing the Brisbane Global Rugby 10s, and a new role in the ongoing development of Joseph Parker.
Dean Lonergan will now oversee the Downer NRL Auckland Nines and focus his energies on growing boxing in Australia.
Duco Events has already received a massive Christmas bonus this week.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum has told ESPN he wants to match Duco’s welterweight Jeff Horn against former champions Timothy Bradley or Jesse Vargas in Las Vegas early next year.
Mr Arum says if Horn is successful, the Australian will be on the shortlist to face global superstar Manny Pacquiao in the second half of 2017.
Martin Snedden fact file
· Martin is currently a director of both New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and also of Auckland World Master Games 2017, as well as chairing Heart of the City, Auckland CBD’s business association.
· Throughout 2014, as a director of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Martin was closely involved in the ICC’s reorganisation of the governance of international cricket and the re-shaping of cricket’s Future Tours programme.
· Between 2007 and 2011, Martin was Chief Executive of Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd, the company responsible for staging the extremely successful Rugby World Cup 2011.
· Between 2001 and 2007, as CEO Martin headed NZC during a tumultuous period punctuated by issues relating to terrorism, politics and player contract negotiations, a period where the BLACKCAPS (New Zealand cricket team) consistently ranked high in both tests and one-day internationals. He led the successful joint NZC / Cricket Australia bid for the rights to host Cricket World Cup 2015.
· Between 2014 and 2016, Martin has been chief executive of Duco Events, New Zealand’s foremost event company and promoters of WBO Heavyweight World Boxing Champion, Joseph Parker.
· His book, a personal account of this RWC experience, “A Stadium of Four Million,” was published in 2012.
Seti Afoa / Pic, APN
At age 17 years, Paula Bennett cradelled her new born baby in her arms, looking ahead at an uncertain future. She raised baby Ana on her own with the help of the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) for solo mums. Today, she became the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) of New Zealand.
This is an inspirational story no less. An incredible journey for a then young woman, to a champion for all struggling people everywhere.
Bennett replaces Bill English in the deputy's chair. English replaces John Key as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Bennett's rise to political heights in NZ is an incredible journey of pure survival, both personal and political. Her personal struggle as a young solo mum, was not a barrier to personal development. Bennett studied and earned a BA from Massey University.
In 2005 she entered Parliament as a list MP after unseccessfully challenging for the Labour held seat of Waitakere (Lynne Pillay). She won that seat in the 2008 General Election by the slightest of margins (632 votes). Despite the slender margin she received a huge vote of confidence from new Prime Minister John Key who appointed Bennett to Cabinet as Minister of Social Development and Employment, Minister for Disability Issues, and Minister of Youth Affairs.
Bennett won Waitakere again in 2011 on Election night by even fewer votes (349) but lost it to Labour candidate Carmel Sepuloni after the counting of special votes. Bennett challenged the new result and took back the seat after a successful judicial review.
In the 2014 Election she won the new seat of Upper Harbour (Auckland) by a significant margin of 9,692 votes.
When Key stepped down last week, Bennett threw her name in the ring for Deputy PM under Bill English. She went up against Simon Bridges for the role, and she won it with a confidence vote from her colleauges.
She currently holds Cabinet portfolios for Climate Change Issues, Social Housing, and State Services. This may change as new PM Bill English looks to reshuffle his cabinet. No doubt he has grand plans for his deputy, nothing that will faze Paula Bennett.
Bennett today reflected in the House on her rapid rise from a "17year old single unemployed solo-Maori mum from Taupo" to where she is today. She recalls that it "looked bleak actually" for her.
"I left school with no qualifications, and I didn't have a job."
"I reckon it is a credit to this country that there are more opportunities and actually you get a second chance. If you step up to them and then step in, NZ rewards you for that hard work."
Bennett credits the National Party for her second chance.
"What drove me to the National Party is that real drive behind it that you can get ahead. You can make something of yourself and you get a second chance."
That second chance just keeps getting better for Paula Bennett. Today she becomes the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand.
A proud moment for Labour MP Su'a William Sio, Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture Loau Keneti Sio and
Samoa's Hon. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai S. Malielegaoi with Laauli Joseph Parker and the WBO Heavyweight Belt.
That should be the headline hitting the Boxing world in a month or so. It will be as revolutionary as the Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974 between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, or the Thrilla in Manilla in 1975 between Joe Frazier and Ali again.
And without a shadow of a doubt, that is exactly what Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi will have been mulling over ever since his namesake Lupesoliai Laauli Joseph Parker was crowned WBO Heavyweight Champion of the World at Vector arena only a few hours ago.
Hosting a Parker Championship fight in Samoa is a not a whish list for the Government. It is as important to Samoa as hosting SIDS or the South Pacific Games. Except this is bigger, and has more potential to maximise Samoa's investment in Parker as a fighter. Also, the impact of a Heavyweight fight in Apia for Samoa's tourism will be huge.
There is no doubt such an undertaking is outrageous and way out there, but then we are world renown for doing exactly that when Samoa changed the Dateline, and also the side of the road we drive on. Not to mention changing the name of the country to Samoa by removing the colonial laden word "Western" from our geography.
Two of those revolutionary ideas were Tuilaepa inventions, and each was implemented with precision.
We have also hosted a world champion in the All Blacks a year ago. So we know the logistics of running a show like that.
Hosting the All Blacks taught us a lot. We also learned a lot. The country lost $1m in that exercise, but it was worth it. This is much bigger than the All Blacks for Samoa to host a Parker Title fight.
Samoa has never had a World Champion in our midst. We may never have this opportunity again. Parker's next fight is the best opportunity and chance for Samoa to host a World title fight. That is the only guaranteed fight Parker has, for now.
Hopefully, Parker will keep the belt for much longer than his next defense.
It is looking likely the defense of the WBO belft will be within the vicinity of New Zealand. Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium was mentioned briefly by Duco boss David Higginsn as a Defense venue at the post fight Presser last night.
Apia Park is a much better venue than Forsyth Barr Stadium in late March or early April.
Parker's next opponent has also been hinted at like WBO #4 Hughie Fury. There is also David Haye WBO #3 and Vladimir Klitschko who is ranked #2. With Klitschko, he already has a date with Anthony Joshua on April 29th and that rules him out.
That leaves Fury and Haye, or even sixth ranked Jarrell Mille as likely opponents for Parker. Whatever advantage Auckland was for Parker in his fight against Ruiz Jr, Apia will offer even bigger odds for Parker in the heat of Samoa.
That advantage is needed at every defense of Parker's heavyweight WBO title.
Samoa hosting Parker's next fight is a natural progression from the government's $100,000 USD investment in the Auckland fight.
Sponsorship for Parker's next fight should be something of a better sell for Duco. Now that they have a Heavyweight World champion, Parker and Duco can dictate where the fight is held and the sponsors should follow.
Corporate Sales for a fight in Apia should be no different to filling Forsyth Barr stadium with Aucklanders, who instead of flying two and half hours south to Dunedin, can hop on a 3.45hr flight to the new Faleolo International Airport.
There is another attraction, the large Pacific community in Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand will want a piece of history by catching a Heavyweight Title fight in Apia. That is a large and mobile community too.
There are a lot of possibilities, and good prospects at that too.
A fight of this nature will do more good for Samoa's Tourism than an United Nations funded SIDS conference. The people traveling to Apia to see the fight will be paying customers with a lot more disposable income to spend in their week in the sun.
Parker's value for Samoa is significant. His win at Vector Arena was visibly Samoan in every respect from beginning to end. He is more Samoan than New Zealander, where he was born. Knowing the man, Parker is keen to invest in the future of Samoa as a country, and Samoans as a people.
An influx of visitors to see a Parker fight will compliment the great work the government has done in growing the industry in Samoa. It will also give the Tourism sector an opportunity to meet the challenge it can do so well
WBO regulations means Parker has to fight within 120 days of his win last night. That put the latest fighting date to be Saturday, 8th April.
In Tourism terms that is a great date. It is on the flat tourism season so we need a major injection for the country. It should be cheaper for travellers to fly form Auckland to Apia.
There are also two international events on that week, the Samoa Events run Savaii Marathon on April 8th, and the Apolima Strait 22.3km Swim from Upolu to Savai'i.
These type of activities offer a lot of visitors value for their traveling money to a Pacific destination like Samoa. Keen Runners can run the Marathon on Savaii on Saturday morning and be back in Apia by 2pm for the fight that night.
The other advantage is the dual development of the sport of Boxing for our youth. A programme that is spearheaded by Ministry of Education Sport and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, who no doubt dreamt big things for the development of the sport in Samoa, from his proud participation in Parker's fight at Vector Arena.
The other value is the commercial opportunity of Samoa becoming a haven for holding Boxing camps in the same way Thailand benefits from Mixed Martial Arts camps. Why not Samoa?
Both of these are realistic by-products of a Parker title fight in Samoa, in addition to broadening our Tourism exposure.
The crux will come down to how much Duco wants for the fight. Whatever that figure is, Samoa should look closely at it and build a business case around coming up with the funds to host Parker's next fight.
Not that the government will 100 per cent fund the Fight. Duco has an existing revenue stream that can be transferred, and adjusted to a Samoa venue for their man.
A Parker first defense win, will surely elevate him to a much higher level of commercial value. That makes Parker's first and next defense the best opportunity Samoa has of hosting a Heavyweight Title fight on home soil.
Samoa should at least ask the question, to see if we can financially commit to a Parker fight at Apia Park in partnership with Duco Events and Sponsors, before we can say no to it.
Like Parker's tag line, "This is my/our time", to host a World Heavyweight title fight in Samoa.
We do not have to imagine the possibilities, they are as clear as day.
Story / Pic
Andy Ruiz Jr at his Presser after the fight
Andy Ruiz Jr wants a rematch against Joseph Parker, and his coach Abel Sanchez agrees.
He is a bitter man after the loss to Parker tonight. "I thought I did enough to win."
Ruiz believes he controlled the fight and he should be credited with eight rounds and Parker four rounds.
He said he proved tonight he is a heavyweight contender. After the loss, he will train hard and go back to the gym.
Ruiz said that Parker did not hurt him at all.
"What can I say, I just got to come back and hopefully we'll get a rematch one day."
Sanchez agrees with his charge, "The judges may have been influenced by the boisterous crowd."
He adds, "Even though we had a voiceferous crowd, I still think we did enough to win."
The fight he says is a kind of fight worthy of a rematch, "Where else can you see a fight like tonight? Two gusys throwing a lot of punches."
Story / Pic
The CHAMP. Son of the Nation with the Father of the Nation, Lupesoliai and Lupesoliai, Joseph Parker and the
Hon. Prime Minister of Samoa taking ownership of the WBO Heavyweight Belt.
History is made. Samoa has a Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World and his name is Lupesoliai Laauli-a-le-malietoa Joseph Parker.
He is a champion for his native New Zealand too, but the victory tonight was visibly Samoan with the attendance of Samoa's PM, the Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.
The Son of the Nation and the Father of the Nation shared a very proud moment after the fight.
Tonight at Vector Arena, Parker did enough to beat a determined and dangerous Andy Ruiz Jr.
Parker had to work hard to get the win, particularly after losing the early rounds to Ruiz. Something that irks Ruiz's corner no end.
Abel Sanchez, Ruiz's coach said as much. "If you win the first four rounds like Andy did there is no way you are going to lose the fight from there."
"I thought we won. Parker may have won four rounds at the most. They scored it, we have to take it."
Ruiz himself was scathing of the "hometown decision" that robbed him of a sure victory.
"I won the fight tonight. I was the aggressor, I was going forward and controlling the fight."
"I showed I was the fighter guy out there, but I came into his hometown tonight. I think the judges were on his favour."
Ruiz is hoping for a rematch hopefully in his home turf. He said the Parker camp were shocked with how he fought against their man.
At the Parker corner, trainer Kevin Barry said he knew with two rounds to go that they had control of the fight. He cautioned the Press to value the victory for what it was, a hard fought fight against a dangerous opponent in Ruiz.
The man of the hour Parker said his jab won the night for him by keeping Ruiz at bay all night.
"I felt when I used my jab everything went well."
Barry is a happy man for his own father, the late Kevin Barry Snr, who wanted so much for his son to coach a world champion.
"He would be very happy wouldn't he. He will be looking down tonight and feeling very proud," beamed Kevin Barry Jr.
Looking forward now Parker will take a well earned rest. Duco owner David Higgins gave an outline of possibilities tonight, including a possible defense of Parker's title back here in New Zealand. Dunedin's Forsyth Parr Stadium was mentioned as a possible venue for its outdoor and undercover seating.
That defense will be targeted for March or April in 2017 against Hewie Fury or David Haye. Vladimir Klitschko is also in the ranking but he already has a fight penciled in for April against Anthony Joshua.
"We're going to sit down and write everything on the board and plan from there," said Higgins.
But Ruiz Jr and Sanchez do not believe Parker has the armoury to mix it with the Northern Hemisphere champions like Anthony Joshua and Klitschko.
"This fight is going to go a long way to help both guys become better fighters," is the best Sanchez could say about tonight's fight.
Kevin Barry added that he will sit down to watch the full fight to learn the lessons from tonight's battle with Ruiz Jr.
He may also have a drink for the first time in eight weeks to celebrate Parker becoming the WBO Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Lupesoliai Laauli Joseph Parker exits the cauldron after his historic victory against Ruiz Jr
In my other life, I cover the All Blacks, Boxing, watch the Weather and of course manage Samoa Events