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Friday, October 08, 2010

From Tonga to the NFL: Vai Sikahema beating the odds

Ex-Cougar fights through life to honor grandfather’s legacy
Published: Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 7:11 p.m. MDT
First in a three-part series
Vai Sikahema tried to warn him. An agent representing Jose Canseco, the former Major League Baseball slugger, called to propose a boxing match between Sikahema and Canseco. Sikahema, the BYU graduate and former professional football player who is now a popular TV sportscaster in Philadelphia, thought the fight was a bad idea.
"You called the wrong guy," Sikahema told the agent. "He's got no chance."
This was the summer of 2008. Sikahema was 45 years old by then and hadn't played football in 15 years or boxed in 31 years. Canseco, famous for home runs, his bodybuilder physique and his admitted use of steroids, was a year younger and much bigger and still trying to hang onto his baseball career in the bush leagues. Divorces and legal issues had beset him with financial difficulties, which is why he turned to boxing.
"You don't want to do this," Sikahema continued. "Canseco is going to be in trouble."
The agent was surprised. How big are you, he asked?
"5-8. 200."
"Well, Canseco is 6-4, 250."
"I'm telling you he's in trouble. Does he know what a Tongan is?"
"No."
"Well, he'll find out. I come from a warrior culture and we fight till one of us is lying on the ground. I grew up boxing."
"Canseco has five black belts."
"OK, we'll see."
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