Making a mark

The boxing team, from left, Winston Hill, coach Napoleon Taumoepeau and Nathan Singh at Borron House in Suva. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

The boxing team, from left, Winston Hill, coach Napoleon Taumoepeau and Nathan Singh at Borron House in Suva. Picture: FT FILE

BOXERS from the more developed countries will need to come prepared whenever they face a Fijian boxer in the ring, says Napoleon Taumoepeau, after he coached Winston Hill to a bronze medal win in the Commonwealth Games.

“The bronze medal win for Winston Hill means that the next time another nation faces a Fijian in an international boxing match they better be prepared because we know how to box,” he said.

“This is just the beginning, if we inspired the nation to believe, you will see the next generation of boxers dominating on the world stage. He will go down in the history books of the Commonwealth Games and that is a huge achievement. Although that is a massive accolade it is not what we came here for. We came here to prove to the people of our small nation that it can be done.

“We came to inspire the youth, get the nation behind a sport that we hold close to our hearts, not for us but for the next generation. Winston has been boxing competitively for only four years, before that he was a 20-year-old who had never played a sport in his life. Our achievement has yet to be viewed from our side because we want to lift the sport in our country and only time will tell if we have achieved that and I believe we have.”

The former heavyweight boxer said Hill had to sacrifice a lot to get the bronze medal.

“I cannot lie. This sport takes an abnormal amount of sacrifice. It is not like any other sport. In other sports the results of not being disciplined and unable to sacrifice are shown on a scoreboard or your time but if you are not disciplined and are unwilling to sacrifice in boxing, the results show up in the form of a whopping. It makes you think twice before drinking that beer, smoking that cigarette or eating that chocolate bar,” he said.

“There are boxers right behind Winston who are not far from the same achievements, but they just need to be given the opportunity.

“In the semi-final match he got a little frustrated and that led to a domino effect that spiralled downward. In the final, the Englishman was just as frustrated, but was able to control it. With that being said both him and his opponent from England and Northern Ireland have a combined experience in years that is equivalent to Winston’s entire lifespan. As for boxing in Fiji, it is no secret that as of 2018 amateur boxing in Fiji is non-existent as there have been no matches for the local boxers and there are none scheduled that I know of. I hope we can spark a change in this area.”

Hill lost to Adrian Walsh of Northern Ireland in the semi-final match last week.

He said there was a team of hardworking officials who helped Hill get the milestone achievement for the whole nation and the future generation to talk about.

“I give praise to Almighty God. Honestly this has been more than a sporting journey for both Winston and me but a spiritual one as well. Without God in our lives we would not have been able to accomplish what has been done,” he added.

“I thank our families, they sacrificed a great deal throughout this process and we could not have done it without them. I want to give thanks to our team, Pauliasi Ratu, boxer Jone Koroilagilagi and team manager Manu Koroi.”

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