Overweight Kiwi who clashed with Judith Collins over obesity comments reveals fitness journey

An overweight Kiwi who clashed with National leader Judith Collins in 2020 over her obesity comments has revealed how his fitness journey is going.

Collins attracted criticism in October last year for telling media that obese people should "take some personal responsibility" for their weight by "[owning] up to our little weaknesses" and "not [blaming] systems".

Isoa Kavakimotu hit back at the comments, calling them "bullshit" in a viral social media post.

Speaking to The Project on Wednesday, Kavakimotu said New Zealand's obesity problem is "not that simple".

"She was very dismissive that obesity is just a personal choice. It can be, but it's not that simple… what are the environmental factors, what are the cultural factors, what are the historical factors that have led us to get to... this obesity epidemic. Particularly in Maori and Pacific communities, obesity runs rampant because we live in low socio-economic neighbourhoods. We are surrounded by takeaways, we are surrounded by liquor stores."

He now has another goal that he's working towards - getting fit and healthy.

Kavakimotu is now consistently training after a chance encounter with pro-wrestler and co-owner of Fale Dojo Bad Luck Fale.

"I ran into him a couple of years ago and I said to him: 'I'll come to your dojo'. But then lockdown happened and I just found myself sitting there hearing about all of these people dying and stuff because of COVID and I thought 'what am I doing about myself' and I realised I was at my heaviest. So I started coming here and now I'm like: 'can I live upstairs now?'."

He said the journey has been "so hard" but it's worth it.

"I literally had to fight myself to come here every day but that feeling of accomplishment and when the endorphins are pumping after a workout, it can't be matched."

Now Kavakimotu is taking on Auckland fun-run Round the Bays on Sunday.

"I'm calling it an expedition of gold, trying to get as many medals as I can," he said.