“I was motivated to find a place to train and I opened up my training camp to them. It’s opened up for anybody to train. We invite anybody and everybody who can’t afford gym fees to train with us,” said Pu’u. “Us Samoans in Hawaii, especially in Hawaii, if we don’t teach our kids how to be successful they will fall into loopholes like we did. I want to teach them my skills as an athlete and soldier and use it effectively in our community. There is a need for people to work out.”
The Hawaii Training Center in Waipio graciously agreed to help and the athletes trained for several months at the Waipio center. Early this year Pu’u proudly opened SAMOA MMA Hawaii based at the Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu. Top notch trainers like Joseph Solis have been teaming with Pu’u to help train the young athletes of Samoa MMA Hawaii and adults who are interested in the intense workouts. Training is free. All Pu’u asks is that you come with the desire to learn and soak up all the knowledge you can. There is a second requirement: you must have heart.
“I wanted this, not only for our Samoans…it’s about the Polynesians. We have our own generation and we have been hearing about the problems from our fathers and their fathers,” he said.
Earlier generations of Samoans who relocated to the Hawaii and the US, had to deal with cultural and language barriers, biases and stereotypes, says Pu’u.
“They didn’t really understand. This generation, we know how to make it happen and have the means to make it happen,” Pu’u says. He began boxing at the age of five, all his siblings trained by their late father Nu’uelua.
Last December, Pu’u traveled to American to host the territory’s very first cage fight. He notes the first cage fight would not have been possible without backing from his longtime sponsors – Peter Lamy, Consolidators Incorporated International and BOOYAA Fight Wear.
Opening SAMOA MMA Hawaii at Lighthouse was made possible by Lighthouse leader, Pastor Joe Hunkin.
“It’s a statement for Samoans…that our generation can do it as long as we are willing to step forward,” Pu’u said.
“It’s important to mention that I left Samoa because my son got sick. He is the first child medivaced from Samoa by the Air Force to Hawaii. We are now staying in Hawaii for the best for my son,” he noted.
In 2004, Pu’u lost a daughter to SMA, spinal muscular atrophy, which causes the muscles to rapidly deteriorate. It’s a genetic disorder that eventually kills. DJ is their second child to have been diagnosed with the illness. Deutsch, wife Eustasia Tunoa-Pu’u and their daughter Linei still carry a lot of pain from their loss but they put their faith in God and move forward for DJ’s sake.
Recently DJ was moved from an Ewa care home to their family apartment in Waipahu. It was a huge accomplishment for the Pu’u family to have DJ living with them again. DJ is still in need of a special type $40,000 van, needed to transport their son, to doctor appointments, to the store anywhere. Until DJ has the van, he stays in, unable to travel without that vehicle.