Boxing stars on the rise have big goals
FOR Kavana and Zephy Vaotu'ua, all the talent in the world may not be enough to fulfil their dreams of boxing for Australia.
The Ripley based brothers both claimed Queensland crowns at the state boxing titles at Acacia Ridge last week. (Nov 28-30)
It was nine-year-old Zephy's Queensland Championships debut while Kavana, 14, won his second successive title.
Both have been boxing since they were seven.
It runs in their family and dad Lew is also their trainer.
Lew established the Swifts Zion boxing club that trains at Purga.
It began as a means of helping street kids through a church group.
Kavana and Zephy are two of about 15-20 boxers who fight out of the gym.
While dad was proud as could be to see his sons claim state titles, he is sad they are not able to compete for national titles or represent what they consider their country.
The reason is the family are all New Zealanders, having been in Australia five years.
"They can't get citizenship so can't fight at nationals," Lew said.
"We're trying to get sponsorship and a talent visa.
"It's Kavana's passion to fight at the Olympics. But it's a long road because of our situation."
The brothers have very different fighting styles.
"Zephy is more unorthodox," Lew said. "He shifts it up a bit and can go both sides - orthodox or southpaw.
"Kavana is an orthodox pressure fighter. He's quite a big puncher, which helped him at state titles."
In the gold medal fight Kavana rocked his opponent with standing-eight-counts in the first and second rounds to dominate the judging.
The Swifts Zion club has proven the perfect place for them to learn their art.
"It's more like a family," Lew said of the gym he helped establish.
"It's not a very staunch club.
"There's no heroes. We just want people to feel welcome."
Aussie visas for his sons would make the Vaotu'ua family feel a whole lot more welcome too.