City Kickboxing team member Fau Vake died in May, days after he was the victim of a brutal attack in downtown Auckland. In response to his death, Vake’s teammates—including UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya—have called for New Zealand to institute tougher penalties for ‘coward punch’ attacks.
Last week it was revealed that Ofa Folau, one of the four men who police say was involved in the fatal attack on Vake, plead guilty to assault on Vake and his brother Ika Vake and had been sentenced to six months of home detention.
The other three men have all plead not guilty to their charges. One of those men, whose name has been suppressed by the courts, has been charged with manslaughter. The other two, Siofilisi Paongo and Semise Pomale have been charged with common assault.
The New Zealand Herald recently travelled to City Kickboxing to get reactions on Folau’s six-month sentence. With that outlet an emotional Adesanya shared his confusion and frustration with the laws that would allow for such a lenient penalty in this case.
“It’s like every day or multiple times a week, I’ll just get a moment just like ‘Fuck, he’s gone, physically,’” said Adesanya (ht Sportskeeda). “For me, I don’t have kids but the thought of his daughter still wondering when her dad is coming home, that’s the one that really kicks the most. It’s just sad. I remember in the hospital, she was asking him to wake up. That was really hard.”
“He only gets six months of home [detention] where he gets to be in the comfort of his own home and doesn’t get to work and gets to chill,” continued Adesanya. “For me, I don’t know if he can sleep at night. For me, I just don’t understand what kind of a person looks at a law like that and goes ‘Hmm, this is a bad law. Why would we put this in place?’ I don’t understand. I don’t get it.”
UFC fighter Brad Riddell also spoke to The Herald. The lightweight fighter said he would fear for his daughter’s safety in Auckland City, where the attack on Vake took place. “The violence in New Zealand is getting pretty bad,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Adesanya. and City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman, have called for New Zealand to pass a law similar to what exists in some Australian states, where a death resulting from a ‘coward punch’ can be punishable by a 20-year prison sentence. A law like this was introduced in 2018, but the bill was rejected by New Zealand’s parliament.