05 Jul Living in Sydney, fighting for Samoa
After winning bronze at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games and a silver at this year’s Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, in the boxing ring, Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali is a force to be reckoned with.
Encouraged by his father to take up the sport for a number of years, Ato finally began boxing at the age of fourteen to fight off the taunts made by bullies. Now, not only does 19-year-old love playing the sport, but he also uses boxing to connect to his Samoan roots.
“Every time I jump into the ring when I am wearing the Samoan uniform, representing my country, it is always a big honour,” Ato said.
“Even though I am not representing Australia, I’m still Australian born and bred, but it’s also amazing that I can fight for my fatherland.”
Drawing inspiration from David Tua, Samoan New Zealander former professional boxer who won bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games, Ato hopes his next steps will be the Olympic trials, followed by the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Using his family and culture as pillars of support, Ato is working hard to reach these goals for the small Pacific nation.
“I grew up around my Samoan grandmother (pictured above) and it makes her very proud to see me representing Samoa; she always comes to me crying after I compete, so it brings little tears to my eyes as well,” he said.
“My favourite part about being Samoan has to be the culture and the mutual respect we have for one another, but I just love everything about it.”
Giving back to the people in Samoa, Ato is currently working in partnership with Marist Boxing for a project called Against the Odds, or A.T.O., to promote the sport in rural villages.
“At the moment, there are two gyms we are supporting at the moment and we’re just helping young Samoans by giving them gear, but hopefully, when I get older, the program will continue to expand,” Ato said.
The work helps young people to be involved in recreational activities as opposed to risk-taking behaviours, and has helped establish a new club and program in Sa’aga Siumu.
Stay up-to-date with Ato and his boxing journey by liking his Facebook pager HERE.