According to Pacific Media Network Ofa He Mooni Folau, 29, has plead guilty to assaulting Fau Vake, who died in May after a suspected ‘coward punch’ incident in downtown Auckland, New Zealand. After the attack Vake was transported to hospital and put on life support. He passed away around a week later, surrounded by family and friends. He was 25-years-old.
RNZ reports that Folau plead guilty to two assault charges and that his sentencing hearing has been set for August. Three other men have entered pleas of not guilty.
The three other men are subject to a name suppression order, meaning their identities can not be reported in media outlets.
Those three men include a 29-year-old has been charged with manslaughter, another 29-year-old who has been charged with common assault and injuring with intent to injure and a 32-year-old man who has been charged with common assault.
Vake was a popular member of City Kickboxing, the gym that includes UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovski, and other UFC stars including Dan Hooker, Kai Kara-France, Shane Young and Brad Riddell.
During a recent court appearance for the accused, members of City Kickboxing filled the court viewing gallery wearing T-shirts commemorating Vake.
Adesanya and City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman have publicly alleged that Vake was the victim of a ‘coward punch’ (aka a sucker-punch). According to their statements, it is believed that Vake was waiting for a taxi when he was punched from behind.
Both Adesanya and Bareman have called for New Zealand to enact stricter penalties for coward punches.
Vake is survived by a 3-year-old daughter. A friend of the Vake family set up a crowdfunding site to benefit Vake’s daughter. At this time of writing that campaign has raised $62,581. You can donate to that fund here.