Boxer Brown Buttabean’s new fight against obesity

Boxer Dave Letele is on a mission to battle obesity (Newshub.)
Boxer Dave Letele is on a mission to battle obesity (Newshub.)

Boxer Dave Letele - aka the "Brown Buttabean" - is known for his antics in and out of the boxing ring.

The 36-year-old usually fights on the undercard of Joseph Park bouts and sure knows how to talk it up at boxing press conferences and weigh-ins.

But outside of boxing the Brown Buttabean is a different man, and he’s a man on a mission to battle obesity.

He knows the problem first-hand.  A few years ago he weighed 210 kilos.  He’s now down to 122 kilos.

"I love helping people and helping them on their journey because I know how hard it is to lose weight," he says.

For a while now Letele has been holding boot camps for a gold coin donation.  

But as well as exercise he’s also focusing on food, and has set up a bulk-buying group to help those struggling to afford fruit and vegetables.

The group purchases directly from supplier T&G - the former Turners and Growers.

"I just saw a need out there.  I went shopping one day and I couldn’t believe how expensive stuff was for people to eat healthy," he says.

For $35, those in the group receive two full boxes of produce including broccoli, carrots, potatoes, onions, kumara, cucumbers, tomatoes, bananas, apples and oranges.

T&G employee Carol Hodgson is helping Dave Letele with his project.

"It’s awesome produce.  The wonderful thing about this is it’s so fresh.  We get it from our growers or suppliers," she says.

"It comes into our depot and pretty much Dave has picked this stuff up less than 24 hours since it came from the grower or supplier and it’s then ready to go out to families."

After picking up the fruit and vegetables Letele has the time-consuming job of packing it into separate boxes for those in his bulk-buying group.

"Our mantra for the group is no excuses.  So we’ve taken out the excuse of it been expensive."

Group member Adele Timai used to spend $55 a week on fruit and vegetables.  

"And that was at the markets," she says.  "I'm now spending thirty bucks and this will do us probably a fortnight."

Letele also has a few small businesses sponsoring fruit and vegetable boxes for needy families.

"Obesity’s a huge problem in New Zealand.  I’ve lost 88 kilos and I wish this sort of thing was around when I started.  I did it the real hard way.  I didn’t have this stuff that we’re providing for our members."