Sport: East Tamaki Bowling Club legend, Chris Salesa dies
East Tamaki Bowling Club has lost it's greatest champion and the game, one it's gentlemen.
He was Tusanilefaia'ao Ieremia Salesa, better known as Chris Salesa to members of the Auckland and Counties Manukau bowling community.
Salesa, his club's most successful bowler ever with a stunning 22 club titles, died suddenly on June 7 and was buried at the Mangere Lawn Cemetery last week.
He was 74 and had been a member of the East Tamaki Bowling Club for 26 years.
He won one Auckland Centre title, the 2017 Auckland champion of champions triples title with Malcolm Wright and Leon Wenzlick, was a member of the East Tamaki team which won the Auckland's inter-club title in 2015 and won a gold, silver and bronze at the World Masters Games in April this year.
Salesa also represented Samoa at the World Bowls Championship in Christchurch last year and was a strong advocate for Pasifika Bowls.
He was as keen a contributor off the green serving on the club's executive and match committees and as tournament manager for a number of years.
East Tamaki Bowling Club president Don Parker says the club will be poorer without Salesa.
"Chris, it's fair to say, is the best bowler in East Tamaki Bowling Club history. No one has won more titles in our club than he has and it would be an achievement for any member to even get close to the number of titles he won.
"He was a very loyal club member. A better ambassador and bowler for the club would be hard to find. He represented our club throughout the greater Auckland area and beyond with his normal pride and humility. He will be missed not only by every member of the club but the Auckland bowling community at large."
Long time friend and club associate Lance Walker describes Salesa as a gentleman both on and off the green.
"He was an absolute gentleman on the green. Whilst he always played to win, he'd never have a bad word to say about any of the bowlers around him, even when they were having a really bad day.
"His great strength was his weight control. Whilst everyone around him is struggling to get near to the kitty, Chris had the ability and control to draw the almost perfect shoot at will. He was always calm, quiet, well mannered and a pleasure to have around."
Walker says Salesa made it a point of playing with beginners and taking them under his wing. "He'd help anyone who asked for assistance. He was that kind of man."
Mangere Bowling Club president Paul Newman knew Salesa for some 20 years.
"Chris was a good friend and a humble man. He was a very accurate and excellent player who was capable of playing really awesome bowls. He was a great draw bowler. He never drove too much but relied on the accuracy of weight and green."
"It was a real privilege having Salesa as a dual member of our club for a couple of years."
Many argue that had Salesa belonged to another club, he might have won far more than his one centre title.
It was a question put to him after his one and only centre title in 26 years.
Parker says Salesa's answer was the measure of the man, his humility and his loyalty. "I'm happy. Thanks".
Salesa is survived by his Yvonne, his wife of 50 years, five children and seven grand children.