Samoa’s much loved boxing Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games Silver Medalist, Ato Leau Plodzicki-Faoagali, lost his dearest mom while he was at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Monica Plodzicki-Faoagali, passed away suddenly on Saturday 6th August 2022, aged 47. It was 3pm in Australia – so around 5am in the morning in England.
It was the morning of Ato’s semi-final fight against Niue’s Duken Tutakitoa-Williams. Ato’s father had made the tough decision not to tell his son.
Ato would not find out that his mom had died, until 4 days later, when he had returned home to Australia after the games.
“I was absolutely devastated,” Ato shares.
“My dad couldn’t tell me.. he didn’t want me to grieve on my own.. so he waited until I arrived home.”
Ato may have not known that his mom had passed away, but he reflects back now, and knows that she was with him as he faced his last two opponents in Birmingham.
“I knew something was up,” Ato told Samoa Global News.
“I just felt a peace that I’d never had before.. and absolutely no nerves during that semi-final bout, and even in the lead-up to the final..”
Boxing for Samoa since he was a teenager, Ato says his mom was his number one fan and supporter, always working hard behind the scenes.
“She didn’t like any attention..
“But I want our people to know what she meant to me,” Ato says in an up close and personal interview with SGN.
Ato has been boxing since he was eight years old, supported by his mom’s Polish side and his dad’s Samoan side of the family.
Team ATO – Against The Odds – was the name given to this dedicated group of supporters who have been fundraising and rallying around him since Day 1 of his journey as a boxer for Samoa.
“My mom was the backbone of team Against The Odds (ATO).. she did absolutely everything for me..”
“But she was a nervous wreck during my fights and didn’t like watching them,” shares Ato.
Ato shares that his mom was born in Warsaw Poland and moved to Australia with her parents when she was a little girl.
“My parents met in 1993 and married in 1994… they’ve been together for almost 30 years..
“So this is also really hard on my dad, but he had to encourage me through video calls during my last two fights.. while holding back tears.. just not wanting to tell me until I was home and around family..”
Tupuola Seua’i Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali is based in Sydney but has represented Samoa since he was a teenager, when he won a bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games. The following year he flew the Samoan flag at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and won a silver medal for his father’s homeland.
Ato returned to train with Team Samoa for the Pacific Games and was part of the clean sweep 7-gold-medal 2019 boxing team. With a lot of sacrifices and training alone during Covid-19 lockdowns, Ato made it to the Tokyo Olympic games in 2021.
He holds the Tupuola title from his grandfather’s side in Siumu and the Seua’i title from his grandmother’s side in Tuanai.
In all of his achievements, still at the young age of 23, Tupuola Seua’i pays tribute to his mom, Monica Plodzicki-Faoagali.
“I dedicate everything I am, and all that I have achieved, to my dearest mom.”
Samoa Global News extends our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Tupuola Seua’i and his family. Faamafanafana le Agaga o Le Atua.