We might be used to seeing Filimaea in The Y yellow lifeguard uniform at Lagoon Pool, but he is equally as comfortable with gloves on in the boxing ring. Inspired by his father, renowned boxer Monty Filimaea, our very own Filimaea has risen through the standings to be ranked number 2 Elite Heavyweight in New Zealand and ranked number 1 in Auckland.

Training from a young age with his father as coach, boxing out of his father’s own gym, Filimaea has the heritage, build, and determination to achieve the glory he seeks.

Fili’s dad and older brother both boxed which definitely “played a big part in me wanting to box as-well.” Enjoying the training and his first bouts, Fili “enjoyed it so much … I began to take it seriously and saw a career I can have with the sport.” The love of boxing is in his blood. “My brother and my father are my biggest inspirations. They have had admirable achievements in short periods, and I was there to watch it happen. It inspires me to push myself and eventually surpass them both and go even further.” Fili’s dream fight would in fact be his brother “when he was in the prime of his career, I think we’d have a good technical fight.”

Glory doesn’t come without guts. Fili maintains an intense schedule for training. “I train 6 times a week and twice a day on days I’m not working at The Y. This usually consists of strengthening and conditioning, sparring & boxing training, swimming, and lots and lots of running.” With his father Monty’s personal experience as a professional boxer (who trained with the great David Tua), and now as a personal trainer, Fili is in good hands; “he’s able to cover all of my training.”

How does he do it all? Because not only is Fili training arduously, but he is also a dedicated senior lifeguard at The Y, opening at 5am 2 times a week. For Fili, working at The Y has been “very supportive and [let me] work my hours around my training and competitions. In boxing you don’t make money from competitions till you’re a professional, so being an amateur boxer and having a good job that works around my career is extremely helpful. I’m able to work and make money but also still train and compete without it being affected by my work schedule.”

Not only does he work-out resolutely, but he also must balance his nutritional needs, and recovery time closely. “I prefer to stay home then to go out with friends or be out and about so it’s pretty easy to manage and maintain, however I am a big foodie, and sometimes I can struggle maintaining my diet leading to fights. But for the most part I like to consider myself disciplined.”

For many of us, maintaining Fili’s strict regime and energy may seem undoable, but for Fili his father’s wise words echo in him and he persists. Acknowledging the down times where he struggles to maintain the Mahi required Fili says “I definitely have times where I don’t feel as motivated, but my dad always says those are the best times to do it, so I’ll get up and go anyways and by the end of it I’m glad I did. Starting is always the hard part but I know what I want to do and achieve in the future with boxing, so I’ll go through that process over and over to get where I want to be.”

For a young man rising through the ranks of the ring, Filimaea’s recent accomplishments at the Nationals is his best performance thus far and speaks loudly about his future potential for success.

Filimaea was part of the Auckland Boxing Team that was selected for New Zealand 2023 amateur boxing Nationals champion.

“I had 3 matches, winning the quarter and semi-finals then losing a close fight in the final. Ideally, I would’ve liked to win the nationals but being the number 2 ranked in the country is a good achievement in my second year of competing.”

That’s an understatement. Filimaea fought very well, but just came short to a very experienced fighter with international experience in a close split decision. Filimaea was the youngest in his division and was the least experience compared to the others, who all had 40 to 50 plus fights experience.

Describing his toughest fight is wince-worthy: “Some fighters from Australia came down to NZ. I fought against one and went into the fight with a limp due to my leg being injured. I was told by my chiropractor I shouldn’t fight with the injury, but I decided to anyway. The injury prevented me from training as hard as I usually do so making weight was arduous. I cut 3kgs in less than 24 hours before the match by limping through a 10k run while layered in clothes to help me sweat more. I was knocked down in the first round for my first time ever but was able to get up and go on to win the fight. But with low energy, my injury, and a skilled opponent it was difficult.”

We can easily bear witness to his bravery and determination to try and succeed through hearing this story. There is lots ahead for this talented man. Fili’s initial aim was the 2024 Olympics “but seeing as I fell short at the nationals it is no longer likely, commonwealth in 3 years is a possibility but ultimately I eventually want to go professional and become a world champion and take care of my family.”

“When my career is over, I want my name mentioned with the greats. I want to surpass anything anyone’s done in boxing from this side of the world.”