After nine deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. Army veteran Deutsch Nu'uelua Pu’u has been recognized for his service to the Army, country and community through new programs that are inspiring youth in American Samoa and Waipahu.
Drugs, crime, litter and alcoholism have long plagued Waipahu, especially the area where Pu’u makes his home, Pupuole, a neighborhood comprised of five streets of high and low rise flats. It is home to a large number of Pacific island immigrants including Samoans and Micronesians.
“Understanding the complexity of the situation in American Samoa, most our people are obese… we have to attack the situation. Because I’m a pro fighter…I wanted to bring my set of skills to the Samoan people and not just sit and do nothing,” Pu’u told Faletuiga during an interview at his home on Pupuole Street. “I wanted to share what I know with whoever is willing to learn.”
Obesity, he says is a problem among Samoans in Waipahu, American Samoa and worldwide.
Pu’u, father of three, is a graduate of Samoana High School in Utulei, American Samoa. After high school graduation in 1995, he enlisted, beginning a 13-year career in the US Army. He’s deployed a total of nine times – to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Uzbekistan – when he was stationed in Germany with the US Army Europe and out of Hawaii with the US Army Pacific. One of his deployments was through the U.S. Department of State, orders that Pu’u says he can’t talk about.
Purple Heart veterans joined Honolulu City and County Mayor Peter Carlisle to honor Pu’u at the Honolulu Hale Nov. 3, 2011. Director of Veterans Affairs Pacific Gen. James Hastings presented Pu’u with an award of recognition on behalf of the City that says “In recognition of dedicated service with the United States Army and in appreciation for contributions to our nation and community.” The event was part of Health Awareness Month in Honolulu.
Many lives have been touched by Pu’u through his work in the ring. He is the first Samoan to be crowned All Army Boxing Champion, a title he won in 2003. It was the same year TIME Magazine named The American Soldier Person of the Year. That same year, USA Boxing ranked Pu’u fourth in the nation. Also in 2003, Pu’u finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic Trials, noting it was a controversial loss. Though he landed more blows than his opponent, Pu’u still lost the fight and his chance to compete for the U.S.
Pu’u is the fourth of 10 children born to the late Mr. Nu’uelua Sifaga Pu’u of Nu’uuli and Vatia and Mrs. Maia Kerry Teofilo Pu’u of Masefau.
After his time in the Army, Pu’u joined forces with American Samoa’s sports leaders founding American Samoa MMA which offers free services to anyone who wants to train in boxing, kickboxing, judo and jujitsu at their Leone facility. All services at the gym are free. Pu’u focuses on the youngsters, teaching them early to train; stay fit and go far in life.
Pu’u got wind that youth in the Pupuole area wanted to train with him.