Undefeated boxer Motu opens up on nightmare past, dream future

Mea Motu lands a punch on Toni Moki.

Even in bright pink Crocs, Mea Motu moves at a rapid pace in the ring at her West Auckland boxing gym.

This mum of five is on a mission to seek and destroy.

Motu's career has accelerated under the watchful eye of her coach and long time friend, Isaac Peach.

She's unbeaten in 13 professional fights.

That could be 14 by tomorrow night in Auckland when she faces Thailand's Usanakorn Thawilsuhannawang, Motu's last test before a WBC belt fight in Dubai next month against Iranian Nastaran Fathi.

"I'm feeling excited - I'm ready to take on the world stage. I've been waiting patiently but it's my turn finally," Motu said.

The 32-year-old has been waiting patiently and for much of her adult life, she's suffered immeasurable pain too.

That's because next month's bout in Dubai pales in comparison to her fight to stay alive in what she describes as a violent relationship.

"If you asked me 10 years ago, I hated life, I didn't want to live," she said.

"I was ashamed to just tell anybody; I would always hide it because I made a family with this person, and I literally thought that was what you called love."

The relationship started when she was 17, and a year later she was pregnant.

But from there things went downhill. Feeling trapped and terrified by her then partner, things over the years got so bad Motu resorted to living in a car with two of her children.

"I had so many suicidal thoughts, not that I wanted to kill myself but wanted that person to kill you so you're free from everything," she said.

"But my children would fight for their mother so I can't give up on them because they won't give up on me."

Motu says there's no two ways about it - her kids have saved her life.

"We have this persona, especially as a Māori, you know: we're tough, we're strong, we can get through anything.

"But no, don't do it by ourselves. There are people there who want to help you."

And while her children pulled her back from the darkness, it was her boxing family which has given her freedom.

Drawn to the sport as a 13-year-old, she met her current coach years before she started her career.

The two have been friends since they were teens but life's circumstances saw them drift apart and worse still, her ex-partner was also previously involved in boxing, souring her love for the sport.

That is until by chance, Peach invited her to his gym to train a few years ago.

It would be a turning point for both of them.

"I'm going to cry," Motu said.

"What you go through and you're tormented, you're tormented and in a sport you love so much, and then you surround yourself with amazing people who fully believe in you."

Peach said he believes Motu has "miles to go" in her career.

"She's only been professional for two years, she's going to be massive," he said.

"My dream for her is to be a complete superstar."

The heights which Motu has climbed to from the lowest of lows is astonishing even for the boxer herself.

"I look back where I was to where I am now, I still have shocks, 'is this really happening?'"


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