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By Floris Niu

APIA, Samoa (November 8, 2000 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Tua-mania has gotten out of control in Samoa. In a good way that is!

Sulu Malifa, of Oceania Travel, at the Hotel Kitano Tusitala, has grabbed this rare opportunity to send Samoans to Las Vegas for the battle of the century, Tua’s fight with Lennox Ledwis for the world heavyweight title.

This was done via a package deal including return airfares Apia/Los Angeles/Las Vegas/Apia, with 2 nights’ accommodation and a ticket to the fight. The lowest package cost WST$ 3,850 (US$ 1,363.30), which includes the ticket to the fight worth USD$ 300. The response was phenomenal.

In the effort to come up with the cheapest price for their customers, Oceania Travel decided against using the official operator in New Zealand appointed by the Tua camp. Their price for the complete package was NZD$ 4,999 (US$ 1,997.69) from Auckland with a handling fee of NZD$ 350 (US$ 139.87) per person. The land package alone carried a handling fee of NZD$ 200 (US$ 79.93). In our currency, their lowest price was WST$ 7,600 (US$ 2,691.18) without the airfare from Apia to Auckland.

As an extra bonus, Oceania Travel has included a complimentary designer shirt, made by Susana Wong’s JDL’s Collection, and an "ulafala" as an accessory to their physical support.

In the end, only eight people bought the full package deal from Apia. Most other people opted for the "airfare" alone as they had made other accommodation arrangements with family or friends.

At this point there was no choice but to negotiate directly with proprietors in Las Vegas, and Sulu was able to deal directly with the ticket master for the fight.

All was possible in the end thanks to the co-operation of Air New Zealand and their flexibility in arranging reasonable airfares for the package. The highest package deal was bought by businessman Peseta Vaifou Tevaga of Aldan Company. His package includes a "Ringside ticket" worth USD$ 1,000, where he will be cheering Tua on from seat number 7B.

When asked what he will shout to Tua during a desperate moment in the fight, he relayed: "Tua, don’t forget the pride and the support of your country. Be strong! Think of your country!"

Although the traveling group is confident that the Tuaman will win the title they feel more sympathetic towards Tua’s battle compared with "Manu Samoa," as it is difficult to be a "one man team" where there is no one to turn to for back up. This is why it is important that Samoans all over the world get behind the "Tuaman."

It’s wonderful to see the excitement and enthusiasm among the people and especially those who have made the effort to go to the U.S. to support our young fighter. However, to date we have not confirmed that any government official will be attending the fight.

Amongst the supporters attending the fight on the full package are Mr. Sapau L. Vitale of Saleimoa, Susana Wong of Saleufi, Meti Ah Tune of Papauta and Peter Punivalu Levili of Samalaeulu in Savai‘i.

This is an official group who will support and take a gift for Tua whether he wins or not, and all are excited to give 100% "tapuaiga" to the Fight of the Century. They will take flags, "ulafala," a "fue" for Tua and the official shirts of the fight designed by JDL’s Collection in Saleufi and proudly sponsored by Oceania Travel.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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