Lupesoliai Joseph Parker’s fight with Andy Ruiz tomorrow night is not just a dream realised for the boxer. For his family in Samoa, it is an answer to their prayers and tapuaiga.
His uncle Su’a Henry Fruean, one of two uncles who walk Parker to the ring in all his fights, said as a family, they are excited and nervous.
Su’a is the eldest brother of Parker’s father, Lalogafau Jack Dempsey.
He has been at the forefront of Parker in his professional fights leading him into the ring with his traditional ulafala and his tatau.
“I am so proud of him because I believed he will come this far,” he said.
“That time when we (family) dreamed of him being up in this level, on the top is finally here. From what I see this will be one of the best bouts for both of them…they both have fast hands and the skills.”
Su’a said the winner would be determined by the one who makes fewer mistakes.
“We will know on the night who will have faster hands,” he said.
“However, I am confident that Joseph will win. He had also told me that if he wins he will bring the belt to Samoa.”
About his journey with Parker, the uncle admits that when he started attending Parker’s fights from the beginning he was nervous. He said it was never a sure thing who will win in every fight.
“But as I spent more time with him, I gained that confidence in him and his talent. It was as if I was in his head and knew what will happen. In anything, you don’t want to be over confident but we do our part in praying and supporting him and Joseph does his part in the ring. The win depends on him being well prepared physically and mentally.”
Su’a pointed out that Parker is a dedicated sportsman and this has paved the way for him.
“He (Parker) had said to me that the hardest part is the trainings,” Su’a said. “Parker is a very honest kid in terms of his trainings. No one wakes him up to start. He gets up and does it and when Kevin gets in, he’s already on to it.
“Whenever he walks towards the ring for a fight, he is always happy because he says that this is the last part but its not the hardest part…90 per cent of his time and strength goes to trainings and preparations while 10percent of the time is when he is in the ring fighting.”
While Parker travels a lot for his fights, his uncle Su’a had also played his part in being there for his nephew in every professional fight no matter where the venue is.
In most cases, Su’a has to fork out his own airfare and accommodation. It wasn’t until the three recent fights that Su’a had that load taken off him with sponsors paying for his expenses to be next to Parker.
His airfare and accommodations to New Zealand on Saturday’s fight is being sponsored by Taula, Signs Studio and Apia Concrete Products. Su’a believes that Parker’s journey needs the support of his family and that is what he is doing.
“It’s all to do with team work,” he said.
“You can’t do it alone. If you want to be successful you have to work together and part of that is getting some sponsors to pay for airfares and offering support.”
He explained that before every fight, the family has a family prayer the night before and on the day of the fight before Parker goes to the ring.
“After the prayer we just listen to music to wait for the time to come out…it’s not tense and the key person is Parker. If he feels happy and relaxed everything will go well.”
If there is one thing that Su’a always talks to Parker about, it is reminding him to be humble and not be a showoff.
“I tell him not be a showoff because this takes up a lot of the time and it’s not something small,” he said. “But I have witnessed that from him he is not a showoff. He doesn’t jump around and run around the ring when he wins. He is always cheerful and is very close to his mother.”
Growing up and being a professional boxer, Su’a said Parker’s father was always interested in boxing.
Although the father was not a professional boxer but he was named after one of America's world heavyweight champions in 1919 to 1926, Jack Dempsey.
“Parker’s father who is my younger brother Lalogafau Jack Dempsey was named after that champion and I was named after Henry Ford,” he said.
“So his father had always had interest in boxing and eventually started taking Joseph in his younger years to boxing schools in New Zealand.
“I was named after an engineer and even though I am not an engineer I do similar work in electronic engineering. But with Joseph his father had started teaching him and taking him to boxing going up to his amateur and his mother had always been the advisor.
“When he started becoming a pro we all worked together as a team with hopes that he will be one of Samoa’s best fighters.”
In terms of Samoa being promoted on Saturday’s game, Su’a said Joseph had always loved Samoa even though he was born in New Zealand.
He pointed out that the islands is always Parker’s getaway after his fights.
“During the time he goes out to fight he is announced to be representing Samoa not New Zealand,” he said.
“I believe that is the reason why New Zealand government did not want to support him because he does not represent them. The fight is in New Zealand but it would feel like it is in Apia because Tuilaepa will do the speech and announce the fight and the advertisements is all about Samoa. So we will own the show and if he wins he said he will bring the belt here.”
Su’a acknowledged the support of the country and the government in Parker’s fight.
He said every Samoan always takes pride in Samoans who make the name of the country known overseas. "If he wins it will have a big turnaround in Samoa’s feedback.”