Hundreds expected at memorial for ‘rising star’ kickboxer Liufau Vake

Hundreds of people are expected to gather at the Tuingapapai Church, Māngere this evening to honour the memory of the promising Mixed Martial Art (MMA) fighter who died after an attack in Central Auckland a week ago.

Liufau Tu’iha’angana Vake, 25, died May 16 after he was critically injured in what has been described as “a punch from behind” or a “coward punch”.

He will be laid to rest tomorrow Friday 28 at Waikumete Cemetery, in West Auckland.

It is understood the family and the kāinga are gathering today preparing refreshment for tonight’s service.

Police have confirmed that additional charges will be laid in due course after four people have appeared in court charged in connection with the incident.

Vake’s death was the latest tragedy in a year of heartbreak for the family after they lost their father Masiu Vake.

“They are hurting. We stand with them,” wrote Muay Thai boxer Golnaz Bassam-Tabar, the creator of the Givealittle page to help Vake family.

Within three days, the page had received more than $46,000, accompanied with heartfelt sentiments from the boxing community and beyond.

One supporter wrote that “My heart goes out to the Vake family and close friends, he didn’t deserve this to happen to him and you didn’t deserve to have him taken away from you in such a way. Much love to you.”

Vake’s last fought before he died was in late April. It was part of the Undisputed Fight Series event in Wairarapa, where he won by TKO in the first round in the card’s main event.

He had a 2-0-0 win-loss-draw record as a middleweight MMA fighter.

His death has been described as a great loss to the mixed martial art community as Vake had been seen as a promising and rising start fighter.

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