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Man pleads guilty to manslaughter of City Kickboxing’s Fau Vake

Fau Vake, a teammate of Israel Adesanya, died after being struck by a reported ‘coward punch’.

Fau Vake when he won the XFC middleweight championship in 2016.
Fau Vake when he won the XFC middleweight championship in 2016.
XFC TV/YouTube

Daniel Havili plead guilty to charges of manslaughter and assault in relation to an attack on MMA fighter Fau Vake and his brother Ika Vake, which happened on May 16 in Auckland, New Zealand (per Stuff). Prior to this plea Havili’s name had been suppressed by court order.

Siofilisi Paongo appeared in court with Havili this week. He plead guilty to assaulting Ika Vake on May 16. Ofa He Mooni Folau has also plead guilty to assaulting the Vake brothers. Folau was sentenced to six months home detention. A fourth man, Semise Pomale, has been charged with assault in relation to this incident.

Havili and Paongo are to scheduled to be sentenced on April 12.

The assault on May 16 is believed to have originated at the Edinburgh Castle Bar on Symonds Street before spilling into the nearby streets. Authorities say the Vake brothers were pursued before being struck multiple times.

After the assault Vake was transported to hospital and placed on life support. He died around a week later. He was 25-years-old and the father to a young child.

Vake was a 2-0 MMA pro and a popular figure at City Kickboxing Gym, a facility that has been home to UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovski. Other members of the gym include Dan Hooker, Kai Kara-France, Shane Young and Brad Riddell.

Adesanya, and City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman, have been vocal in expressing their disgust at the attack against the Vake brothers. Both have said they wished there were stricter penalties in New Zealand law for deaths that occur as a result of a ‘coward punch’ (aka ‘sucker punch’).

Multiple states in Australia toughened their laws on ‘coward punches’ in 2014, allowing for stricter charges than manslaughter to be applied in situations such as these. New Zealand’s parliament debated a similar law change in 2018, with a view to creating a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but the bill was ultimately rejected.