More heartache for David 'Tuaman' Tua

NEIL REID
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2011
tua
Photo: Fairfax
David Tua has been dealt heavy blows in and out the ring, but he keeps vowing to carry on.
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Photo: Lawrence Smith
Tua with his wife Robina and sons Klein, left, and Kaynan, right.

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David Tua has suffered more heartache, with the heavyweight boxer losing one of the key men in his corner.

The Tuaman has been rocked by the death this month of his father-in-law Suniula Liufau, 61, the father of his wife and manager Robina.

He died in Auckland after a pre-Christmas mercy dash from Samoa after contracting a flesh-eating disease.

The blow continues 18-months tinged with tragedy and hardship for Tua.

His beloved mother Noela endured breast cancer surgery, his sister-in-law Vania Savila was diagnosed with stomach cancer and he lost an aunt in the 2009 tsunami.

But he's vowing to carry on.

"It's a big blow, but apart from taxes, death is the only guarantee in life," Tua told Sunday News.

"What do you do? You lean on each other for strength. As a father and the head of my family, I have to man up.

"No matter that it hurts on the inside, I have to stand tall."

And 38-year-old Tua said he would carry the spirit of much-loved Suniula into the ring when he continues his `Tua of Duty' against American Demetrice King in Aucklandon March 19.

"He will always be part of me," Tua said.

"When people move on in my family, they will always be with me. Without a doubt, it is a massive motivation for me, but at the same time I won't be distracted by it."

What started as a sore on Suniula's neck, spread across his face and body, Tua said. Suniula died on January 1, three weeks after arriving in New Zealand.

"He was an inspiring man who fought to the end. He was very courageous," Tua said.

"I said that to him before he passed.

"As a man, I told him: 'I have often heard of you having the biggest heart in the world, and now I know'.

"I have never seen someone endure so much pain. He had four major surgeries since he arrived but even though I could see there was a lot of pain, he still had the time to smile.

"When I went to visit him after his first operation, he was sleeping. I think he must have heard my voice and he woke up and smiled."

Suniula's death is just the latest blow Tua and his family have suffered.

An aunty in Samoa was among the 189 people killed in the September 2009 tsunami.

After the tragedy the big-hearted boxer travelled to his homeland with close friend and promoter Inga Tuigamala, to offer help to villagers.

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Then Tua's devoted mum Noela had surgery for breast cancer.

"She is cool. Parents, especially mothers, are battlers.

"I respect fathers, but mothers are the backbones of families. They are the ones who keep things together.

"I asked my dad one day for marriage advice. He said: 'Son, there are three rules in this house ... her [Noela] rules, her rules and her rules'.

"Mum is good. Her and dad are in Samoa and return in the next week or two." Then several months after Noela's surgery, Tua's sister-in-law Vania Savila was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Tua is also involved in an out-of-ring battle with Inland Revenue, which last year froze the purses from his last three fights because of an unpaid $2.2 million bill.

Robina Tua said in mid-October: "He will be going into fights knowing he will not get anything at all, because it is all going to the IRD."

- Sunday News

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