'Nothing but gold, that's the goal'
Paddy Leuii is like a man possessed when he works the boxing bag.
His powerful blows send it flying in all directions and shake the room.
All that training will soon be put to good use when the 19-year-old Mt Roskill resident heads to the Commonwealth Games.
Leuii was born in New Zealand but will represent Samoa - a nation that is close to his heart.
"It means a lot to me," he says.
"I love the idea of representing my country in a massive tournament on the world stage."
The ex-Mt Roskill Grammar student travelled to Samoa to compete against its very best earlier this year. He won those bouts and went on to American Samoa for his first representative fight.
Winning earned him the right to represent Samoa in Glasgow.
Leuii is training seven days a week at his Mt Roskill gym, supported by his dad and coach Samuela Leuii. Samuela Leuii represented Samoa at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and hopes to head to Glasgow with his son.
"I want to be with him, he has never had a fight without me, I am always in his corner," his father says.
"It's an honour to have my son representing Samoa, I am so happy for him."
Both Leuii and his dad are confident he'll come away with a medal - and there's only one colour on their minds.
"We are only going for one medal and that's gold," Leuii says. "It's time to make some history because Samoa hasn't won a gold in boxing at the games."
The island nation came close at the 1994 Commonwealth Games when Bob Gasio fought his way to the silver medal.
"I'm going for nothing but gold, that's the goal, the only goal," Leuii says.
The boxer had his first fight when he was 14.
"Boxing has kept me out of trouble, I never want to street-fight and I have never had a school fight," he says.
"When someone asks me for a fight I know to walk away, there is no need to fight because there is nothing to prove.
"It teaches you that - discipline."
Leuii loves the technical side of boxing.
"When you're in the ring it's like playing chess, it's not really fighting, there's more to it," he says.
"You have to be thinking all the time about what punch your opponent is going to throw next and then counter it."
Leuii will fight in the super-heavyweight division for fighters over 91kg at the games.
"I fight the really big boys," he laughs.
He isn't exaggerating - he has sparred with New Zealand's most promising boxing talent Joseph Parker who stands 1.92 metres tall.
Leuii certainly doesn't consider himself a brawler and prefers to avoid punches and wait for the right moment to strike, reminiscent of the boxers he looks up to and admires.
"I love Muhammad Ali's ringcraft, how he just moves and avoid punches," he says.
So far Leuii has fought 11 fights and won eight of them.
His younger brother Andrew Leuii is also an up-and-coming fighter who will be representing Samoa at next year's Youth Commonwealth Games.
The ultimate goal for Paddy Leuii and his father will be to make it to the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
- Central Leader
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