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Press Release February 3, 2000 Tel: (808) 637-3530 Email: 


Prime Minister of Samoa, Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, will be the keynote speaker at the Annual Samoa International Sports Awards.

TV-SAMOA and Samoa International Media will sponsor the 5th Annual Samoa Sports Awards Banquet in Honolulu, Hawai‘i on Saturday, February 5, 2000 (6:00 p.m.) at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawai‘i to honor and celebrate Samoan athletes in Samoa, 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, Tonga, Chinese, Hispanic, etc.) have made this event a remarkable reflection of the ethnic diversity of the global Samoan family.

According to Coordinator Taniela Sataraka, the gathering is to reinforce 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 need visible positive role models for our young people, participation of our professional athletes and community leaders provides inspiration for our youth."

Although professional world renown athletes (e.g. NFL & 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) was the first Polynesian to be selected twice (sophomore and junior year), first team All American at Michigan State. He was also drafted by the Green Bay Packers and played for the renown Coach Vince Lombardi. He is currently a movie actor/stunt coordinator for numerous major Hollywood movies, and 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. Friend and journalist Don Chapman of Midweek Magazine will introduce Apisa. U.S. Congressman Faleomavaega Eni will provide introductory remarks and baseball star Benny Agbayani (Samoan/Filipino) of the New York Mets will speak on how hard work and perseverance have brought success on and off the field. University of Hawai‘i football players of Samoan ancestry will be honored for their crucial contributions to the incredible turn-around season for the WAC champions. Samoa’s basketball and tennis gold medal teams at the recent South Pacific Games will also attend.

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); Neff Maiava (Wrestling); the late Famika Anae (football coach-Hawai‘i); the late Tony Solaita (pro-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.

The ceremony will be televised (delayed).

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