Parker wrote a tribute on Instagram for Peau, who died peacefully in his sleep in Auckland Hospital this morning aged 54 after undergoing brain surgery recently on a tumour.
“E ua maliliu Toa” Rest In Peace Jimmy “Thunder” Peau, a Samoan boxing Icon and a pioneer of the sport in our Samoan community,” Parker wrote.
“Thank you for your service to our countries, both Samoa and New Zealand. You, along with many other greats, some passed and some who are still with us today, paved the way for us up and coming fighters to be seen an heard on an international scale, so for that THANK YOU.”
“You will not be forgotten along with your world's fastest KO record.”
Former kickboxing world champion and boxing commentator Mike Angove said Peau’s career had made it easier for Parker, David Tua and other Kiwi and Pacific boxers to gain global recognition.
“Here’s a trailblazer who’s paved the way for other Kiwi boxers, for other Samoans like David Tua and Joseph Parker,” Angove said.
“He did a lot of hard yards and it’s heartening to know he was back here with his family.”
There had been an outpouring of grief from the boxing community who remembered Peau fondly, Angove said.
“He had been out of sight for some time so most people’s memories are back from his amateur days, back from when he knocked out Milton Bowen here in NZ, you can’t forget, ‘Milton Bowen is going’, that slogan from when he fought here.”
Peau had some unforgettable victories during his career which stuck with Kiwi fight fans, Angove said.
“He had some great heights in his life but there was a lot of tragedy too,” Angove said.
“The memories we want to have are those of his glory days, those in his prime, some great victories over the likes of Tony Tubbs, had the WBF and IBO world title, had the world’s fastest knockout victory over Crawford Grimsley, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.”
“A guy who represented NZ and Samoa really, really well.”
Peau’s struggles with homelessness in Las Vegas before moving back to New Zealand were also a reminder to those within boxing that they needed to look after their own, Angove said.
“Had he been in NZ, he would have had a wrap around, ‘aiga (family) support, he didn’t have that,” Angove said of Peau’s time in Vegas.
“I’m pleased he was able to spend the last six or seven years back here in New Zealand surrounded by family who were very protective of him.”