By June Ramli
A professional boxer based in Brisbane was shocked one day when his three-year-old daughter wanted to learn how to punch someone.
At first, Kato Akeripa Falefehi just laughed it off but soon realised that his daughter Lesli Valu wasn’t mucking around.
Not wanting to disappoint her, Falefehi decided to give in and teach Lesli a thing or two about boxing. He was soon blown away by what he saw next.
“She just started punching and I noticed that she was pretty good for her age,” he told dailystraits.com in a telephone interview, recently.
What happened next as they say was history in the making.
He decided that he would give his daughter the proper training she needed to excel in the sport much to his wife’s dismay.
“In the Tongan and Samoan culture, boxing is pretty much a male sport and girls weren’t meant to be doing that and they (his family) weren’t really supportive at times,” he said.
But as days went by and as Lesli progressed in the sport, news had travelled far and wide, resulting in her being featured by various international media for her talent.
Even her training videos which her parents uploads on her Instagram account from time to time were getting a lot of attention and was often picked up by foreign media outlets for a fee.
Five years on, Falefehi said his eight-year-old still has not lost her interest in the sport.
“She trains nearly every day but she cannot really fight (competitively) until she is 10,” he said.
He added that his other children, son Irasa, seven and daughter Samantha, six have since joined in the foray by training with Lesli nearly every day.
All three kids train at least four times a week for an hour at his makeshift gym.
The training, he said, was one way he could stop his kids from getting too hooked on the iPad.
But, being young kids, Falefehi realised that boxing was a hard sport and allowed his kids to take breaks from time to time.
He added that by learning how to fight, his kids especially his girls could also learn how to protect themselves.
“I have only one son and the rest are girls. That was the whole purpose of getting them into boxing,” he said.
To contact this reporter, email: firstname.lastname@example.org