'Knockout specialist' hoping to inspire others to chase their dreams

John Wesley Fiu will be aiming to emulate his hero and mentor David Tua when he competes in his first ever fight night for people with disabilities this coming month.

The Samoan Auckland resident, who goes by the boxing nickname Boulder Shoulders due to his powerful physique, hopes this upcoming event is one more step towards his goal of competing internationally. 

PMN News reports the sport of adaptive boxing or wheelchair boxing is set in a floor ring rather than on a raised platform and while not yet a Paralympic sport, has grown in popularity overseas​.

Fiu says this event is also a chance to showcase the amazing team supporting him, including his coach AJ Pouoa, his wider boxing team at Ryze Fitness and his ​family. 

“I just love the people and the team that I have. I have so many people to thank and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today - I'm truly blessed."

​And Fiu says another inspiration in his journey has been the legendary hall of fame heavyweight boxer David Tua, who he also trained under for three years.

“He’s my mentor because like him I’m in the heavyweight division and I’m also a knock-out specialist.”

Fiu trains at his gym three times a week, and does the rest of his training from home. He says this bout feels like “do or die” as it’s his chance to progress towards higher levels in the sport. 

"This event is about showing what we’re capable of," he says. 

"There is a lot more that we go through compared to an able-bodied athlete - just getting out of the house is a challenge, plus we have to use special wheelchairs just for boxing. 

"It’s a massive team effort."

To many in Māngere, Fiu is a familiar face due to his role as a town centre ambassador. He says supporting people, particularly ensuring there’s awareness around disability access is another passion of his. 

“I just help out where I can - and helping out here is kind of like my downtime away from boxing and helping the community to be aware of people like me, and people with different disabilities.

"People say disabled people can’t do certain things - but I just want to change it."

Fiu says helping others comes from having been in a dark place himself. 

“I was eating a lot, watching a lot of TV and thinking I wish I could do this and that," he says. 

"I thought I was worthless. But at the end of the day it was the networks, and my family support that was able to get me out of that dark place. 

"So no matter what you’re aiming for, or if you’re in a dark place - just get some good support behind you.”


John Fiu is aiming to emulate his hero and fellow heavyweight boxer David Tua. Photo/ PMN News/ Justin Latif​