19 Dec 2016

Sport: Pacific's boxing champ welcomed in Samoa

7:15 am on 19 December 2016

The newly-crowned WBO heavyweight world champion Lupesoli'ai Laaulialemalietoa Joseph Parker has been welcomed in Samoa.

The New Zealand-born Samoan with two chiefly matai titles arrived in Samoa over the weekend for a four-day visit to thank the government and people for their support.

The Samoan government helped sponsor Parker's championship bout with Andy Ruiz this month.

Leauvaa matais welcome Parker to their village

Leauvaa matais welcome Parker to their village Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

People from the villages of Leauvaa and Faleula were the first to welcome Parker, lining the road with flags and banners to welcome him to the islands.

Parker said it is great to be in Samoa and he appreciates the backing he receives there.

"I'm grateful for the support. Thank you to Samoa for putting in money to make the event happen and for their great support," he said.

"I can feel the love everywhere. I look forward to actually seeing everyone in town and going out to see people, saying hello.

"I love this place. I have come here ever since I was a baby, so Samoa is my home."

Parker's win over Ruiz was greeted with criticism from some high profile members of the boxing fraternity in New Zealand.

But Parker is not bothered.

"I watched the fight again and I won. I saw it and I won so I am happy with the result," he said.

"When you are doing well, you always get criticised so it will give you extra motivation to train harder and aspire to train harder."

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Parker is accompanied by government ministers as he arrives in the village Leauvaa. Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

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