Cage fighter to train as church pastor
Invercargill cage fighter Hiriwa "T-Man" Te Rangi will transform into the punching preacher next year when he moves to Christchurch to study to become a pastor.
Te Rangi, who has carved out a colourful mixed martial arts and kickboxing career during the past 25 years, will fight in his last bout in Southland on December 10 when he defends his New Zealand heavyweight MMA title against Wellington's Pete Aberdeen at the Battle of the Gladiators event at Wallacetown Stadium.
The gregarious Te Rangi has never been short of a surprise during his fighting career and ad-mitted his aspirations to study theology at Christchurch's Vision College next year was a surprise even to himself.
"If you asked me a year ago, that I'd be training to become a pastor, I'd have told them to shove off," he said.
"Being a pastor is going to be unreal. I'm prepared for whatever the man upstairs has ready for me."
Te Rangi was baptised in April and is a member of the Acts Churches New Zealand religion, formerly the Apostolic Church. He started tagging along to the Invercargill Christian Centre with his fiancee, Tash Tawhara, and said he realised he wanted to make a difference through his faith.
Te Rangi grew up as a believer of the Ratana Church, while living in Whanganui, but said he grew disinterested in religion as he became older. "It didn't appeal to me. In 1988, I moved away, the whole thing wasn't for me and I started fighting."
Combat sport served as an outlet for him to deal with his problems and anger as a young man. He said he could have easily taken the wrong path in life.
Next weekend's Battle of the Gladiators event will feature 10 bouts. Tickets are $25 and available from World Gym or $40 at the door on the night. Fans can get in the door for $15 if they bring a can of food to the stadium for charity.
- The Southland Times