Mealamu pulls out of Fight For Life main event due to heart condition

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

On the eve of the return of the Fight For Life charity boxing event, one of its main fighters has had to withdraw from the card.

Ex-All Black hooker Keven Mealamu was scheduled to face ex-Warriors and Kiwis star Wairangi Koopu in the main event but has withdrawn from his boxing debut due to a condition known as atrial fibrillation.

A routine pre-fight medical check from his former Blues doctor Stephen Kara ruled Mealamu unable to fight tomorrow.

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots in the heart. 

According to the NZ Herald, Mealamu's trainer and mentor Monty Betham says the former All Black is numb and apologetic. "That attitude to never want to let anyone down is what makes him special," Betham says.

The match between All Blacks legend Carlos Spencer and rugby league legend Paul Whatuira has now been elevated to the main event spot.

Stepping into the political arena

But, while Mealamu can't take part in the fight, he announced this week he will be standing in the Franklin Ward for the Auckland Council as an independent. He has been a member of the Papakura Local Board since 2019.

The 43-year-old Papakura resident says that after holding down a local board seat for the previous three years, running for council seems to be the logical next step.

"I want to be a good steward of ratepayers' money because spending other people's money requires care and discipline," he says.

Bill Cashmore, the current Franklin ward councillor, has announced his intention to retire from the council in October after serving three terms.