By Michael Cugley, Te Rito journalism cadet.
An Aotearoa female boxing champion says being Māori and displaying tikanga Māori is what led her to a new American reality TV show.
Mea Motu is a veteran boxer from Kaitāia who attributes standing up as a proud Māori as the reason for her selection into the new reality series Champion: Making of a Celebrity.
“In America, they’ve never heard of New Zealand, they don’t know anything about New Zealand. I mainly talked about who I am and about us being Māori, identifying what being Māori is all about, and I know I captured them because of the type of people we are. We’re all about our whenua, our family and our people, and that shocked them.”
Motu says her mum was the person who introduced her to boxing. As a part of an athletic family, boxing was a way to keep fit. But it was her coach that drove her to the success she has seen.
Motu ready to fight - in a different ring of sorts.
“I never thought I’d be a pro fighter until I met my coach Issac Peach. From the day I walked into his house he told me I was gonna be a world champion and that I was gonna be the best pro fighter in the world. I looked at him like -'you’ve never seen me fight, you don’t know,' because back then I didn’t think I could punch, and look at me now. I’m eighth in the world and I definitely can bang bigger than most women in the world'”
The four-division New Zealand champion says she has no worries heading into the show, with a plan of attack set by coach Peach.
“I’m not nervous, I’m excited. I’m ready to put our name on the map, that’s what it is. I want everyone in the world to know what Māori people are all about.”
Peach says, “She’s gonna win it. The only reason we’re in it is to win it. We’re not here to come second. 100% she’ll win it.”
With a prize pool of $2 million for the winner of the show, Motu says she is looking at giving back to the sport that has given her success.
As final words of encouragement for younger kids looking at getting into the sport, she says: “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Find someone that will push you and tell you you can be great. Listen to them.”
Motu will be flying out to Las Vegas for the show at the beginning of the New Year, and the show will premiere in Aotearoa, in summer, 2023.