TOP SAMOAN ATHLETES TO BE HONORED IN HAWAI‘I

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SAMOA INTERNATIONAL SPORTS AWARDS Honolulu, Hawai‘i

PRESS RELEASE January 6, 2000

TV-Samoa and Samoa International Media will sponsor the 5th Annual Samoa Sports Awards Banquet in Honolulu, Hawai‘i on Saturday, February 5th, 2000 (6:00 p.m.) at the Polynesian Culture Center in Laie, Hawai‘i to honor and celebrate Samoan athletes in Samoa, the USA and around the world.

Samoan athletes in sports such as football, sumo, volleyball, boxing, basketball, rugby, weightlifting, strongman, tennis, cricket and others will be honored.

The banquet will honor, in particular, this year’s college and high school 9th Annual "All Samoan Football Stars" selected from the best football players of Samoan ancestry (regardless of blood percentage) in high schools and colleges in the USA and American Samoa.

Many Samoan students of mixed ethnic background (Hawaiian, Filipino, Caucasian, African, Japanese, Tongan, Chinese, Hispanic, etc.) have made this event a remarkable reflection of the ethnic diversity of the global Samoan family.

According to Coordinator Tanielu Sataraka, the gathering is to reinforce the important values learned in sports of "dedication, persistence, teamwork, perseverance, commitment, goal setting, patience, and pride of our Samoan heritage."

He added, "It is also important for our young people to know that we as a people can be united to support and celebrate their achievements and accomplishments . . .and in a community that desperately needs visible positive role models for our young people that the participation of our professional athletes and community leaders provides inspiration for our youth."

Although professional world-renowned athletes (e.g., NFL and rugby) may capture the attention of the evening, "The emphasis of the event is to focus attention on student athletes in high schools and colleges. We want to give a clear message to every student that excellence in sports and education are important values in the Samoan culture and the Samoan people," said Jesse Sapolu.

Bob Apisa (Football), who was the first Polynesian two-time first team All American at Michigan State and currently a movie actor/stunt coordinator for numerous Hollywood movies will be recognized with the Samoa Legend Award for his positive contribution on and off the field bringing pride to the Samoan community. The award is given to retired Samoan athletes who have made great contributions to the community, also recognizing their talents, pioneering achievements and an enduring legacy of excellence.

Baseball star Benny Agbayani (Samoan/Filipino) of the New York Mets will speak on how hard work and perseverance has brought success on and off the field.

Some of the past honorees: Sumotori "Konishiki," Saleva‘a Atisanoe, Junior Ah You (CFL Hall of Fame); Al Lolotai (Washington Redskins, 1945); Charles Ane, Sr. (Detroit Lions, 1953); Neil Maiava (Wrestling); the late Famika Anae (Football coach-Hawai‘i); the late Tony Solaita (Baseball player); Seiuli Paul Wallwork (Weightlifter and IOC Member), and Peter "Fats" Fatialofa (retired Manu Samoa Rugby team captain and current technical advisor) . . .just to name a few.

Boxer David Tua (current #1 heavyweight contender) said of the banquet, "I’m honored to be part of the banquet and to see our young people being recognized."

After retiring from the NFL, Jesse Sapolu and Mark Tuinei were honored for their legendary feats in the NFL at the last banquet. Unfortunately, it was also the last public appearance in a community event by Mark Tuinei before his untimely death.

The 2000 banquet is dedicated to the memory of Mark Tuinei.

A concert will be provided by some of the most popular Polynesian entertainers in Hawai‘i immediately after the awards.

FYI: To vote or nominate your favorite/outstanding high school/college athlete, call: (808) 637-3530; e-mail: samoasports@hotmail.com or write: P.O. Box 27857, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96827.

The ceremony will be televised (delay) in Hawai‘i, California, Washington and Samoa.

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