Former All Black Inga the swinger in fight of life

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 07:45 16/03/2014
Va'aiga Tuigamala
JASON OXENHAM/ Getty
IN TRAINING: Va'aiga Tuigamala is scheduled to fight in an upcoming charity boxing event.

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Va'aiga Tuigamala and his two sons are set to headline a pay-per-view boxing event as the former All Black fights to get his fitness and finances back in order.

The Sunday Star-Times understands Tuigamala will appear in a soon-to-be-screened, free-to-air documentary to promote the event. He is expected to reveal the depth of his despair and full extent of the dark times he and his family suffered after two of his businesses collapsed.

His funeral company, Tuigamala & Sons, was placed in liquidation last year, owing around $100,000 to the Inland Revenue Department and his New Lynn gym, Plantation Health and Fitness, also folded, forcing him to sell the Glen Eden family home.

During that time it's understood Tuigamala - commonly known as "Inga the winger" -  lost most of his earnings from professional rugby and league, which included a three-year deal worth around $2.2 million with English club the Newcastle Falcons. 

While dealing with the stress of financial hardship, it's understood the 44-year-old faced serious health risks with his weight blowing out to almost 200kg. To prepare for this fight over three rounds - possibly against former Blues hooker Slade McFarland - he has lost nearly 60kg.

Tuigamala is David Tua's cousin and has twice fought on charity boxing event the Fight for Life.    

In what is thought to be a first for the sport, Tuigamala's two sons, Babba (heavyweight) and Jordan (super-middleweight), who are undefeated after one pro fight each, will feature alongside their father on a seven-fight card at Auckland's ASB Showgrounds on May 22.

"It's going to be very exciting but we're just finalising all the bits and pieces then we'll have a proper release on the whole thing," Tuigamala, who played 19 tests for the All Blacks and 23 for Samoa, told the Star-Times. "We're not talking about it at this stage."

In partnership with Sky Television, Tuigamala will co-promote the event. Sky is understood to take the first $40,000 to cover costs and advertising. The remaining revenue is expected to be spilt.

"The deal was signed very recently so we're still briefing publicity teams," Sky spokeswomen Kirsty Way said. "We can't discuss details of confidential business agreements. It's been widely talked about that pay-per-view deals are often 50/50."

New Zealand's premier light-heavyweight boxer Robbie Berridge (23-1) will be another major drawcard. Coming off a TKO win over Australian Kerry Foley, Berridge is expected to take on fellow Kiwi Adrian Taihia (10-1).  

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The pair have been embroiled in a war of words since Taihia jumped in the ring following Berridge's win over Argentine Mariano Jose Riva last October.    

Middleweight Gunnar Jackson (18-5), who put up a credible fight before losing on points to three-time Australian champion Anthony Mundine in January, will make his comeback against Samoan Afakasi Faumui (9-3) for the WBO oriental title.

Light-heavyweight prospect Nikolas Charalampous (6-0) and undefeated Samoan heavyweight Vaitele Soi (22-0) will also fight yet-to-be-confirmed opponents.

- Sunday Star Times

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