By Johnny Walker
Heavyweight veteran David “Tuamanator” Tua of New Zealand, last seen in a boxing ring in one of the top heavyweight fights of 2011–a tough unanimous decision loss to American Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett–has decided to step away from the squared circle, perhaps for good.
“I’m retired. But I’m not officially retired,” the Tuaman, 39, told the New Zealand publication Herald on Sunday last week.
Barrett, who survived a 12th round knockdown in which Tua broke his jaw, had hoped to make it trilogy in 2012 with the New Zealand boxing legend: they fought to a controversial draw in Atlantic City in 2010.
But extenuating circumstances seem to have discouraged Tua.
Barrett was accused of failing a drugs test after their second fight, and an incensed Tuamanator demanded that the result of the bout be overturned. However, due to questions about the time it took for the testing results to be made public, as well as about other procedural anomalies, Barrett, who claims innocence in the matter, still has the WBO Oriental and Asia Pacific heavyweight titles he took from Tua in his possession.
Barrett will now instead take on another New Zealand native, Shane Cameron, a previous Tua victim.
Adding to Tua’s woes is a recent split with his wife Robina. The couple has two teenage sons.
“I’m not with my boys every day but I know that bond and I feel that connection,” Tua says. “Blood is thicker than water. I will always be with them.”
David Tua has also long battled financial problems. The Tuamanator earned approximately $12 million from his 2000 loss to heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, but lost it all via problematic investments and a protracted legal battle with two ex-managers. At one point, Tua and his family were homeless and had to move in with his manager, Inga Tuigamala.
During this period of turmoil, Tua’s legal bills eventually ballooned to $4.2 million, and to add to his woes, he was also hit by a $2.2 million tax bill from the New Zealand government.
As for now, Tua says his various problems are of such a magnitude that he needs time away from boxing.
“I’d rather sort out these important matters out of the ring than in the ring,” he says.
And the boxer remains grimly philosophical about his long run of bad luck.
“Every day I wake up and I’m above the dirt is a day in paradise,” Tua tells the Herald on Sunday.