Boxing; Joseph Parker pays tribute to Jimmy 'Thunder' Peau

Kiwi boxer Joseph Parker has paid tribute to the late Jimmy 'Thunder' Peau for creating a pathway for Kiwi-Samoan boxers. 

Peau died in his sleep at Auckland Hospital on Thursday morning, after recently undergoing brain surgery on a tumour.

As an amateur, he won a gold medal at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and turned professional after missing selection for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, compiling a record of 35 wins and 14 losses over a career that ended in 2002.

Peau, who's original name was Ti'a James Senio Peau, was born in Apia, Samoa, but grew up in Auckland and attended Onehunga High School. 

"E ua maliliu Toa Rest In Peace Jimmy 'Thunder' Peau, a Samoan boxing Icon and a pioneer of the sport in our Samoan community," Parker posted on Instagram. 

"Thank you for your service to our countries, both Samoa and New Zealand. You, along with many other greats, some past and some who are still with us today, paved the way for us up-and-coming fighters to be seen and heard on an international scale, so for that THANK YOU.

"You will not be forgotten, along with your world's fastest KO record."

Others to pay tribute include former Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Shane Cameron, and UFC star Mark Hunt.

Boxing commentator Mike Angove echoed Parker's comments. 

"He was a trailblazer, who made a mark in the US before David Tua and subsequently Joseph Parker," he told Newshub. 

"[He was a] Commonwealth Games gold medalist in 1986 and he did that for New Zealand, but he's a trailblazer for Samoa as well. 

"For David, for Joseph and even Israel Adeyanya, Jimmy has really paved the way for professional combat sports athletes in New Zealand."  

Peau was known for his devastating power, hence his nickname, and was involved in one of the shortest fights in boxing history, when he felled Crawford Grimsley with one punch and had him counted out 13 seconds into their 1997 bout. 

In his later years, Peau fell on hard times, living rough in Las Vegas, and spending time in a US prison for assault, battery and substantial bodily harm.

"Even though life wasn't kind to Jimmy in his later years, he was rarely unkind to people," Angove added. 

"He always took time for people and whenever I spoke to him, he was humble.

"Many of the issues he experienced, they would not have been so pronounced had he had his family around him."
Meanwhile, Parker will make his long-awaited return to the ring on March 1 (NZ time), when he faces American Shawndell Winters in Texas. 

Join us for live updates of the Joseph Parker vs Shawndell Winters fight on March 1