This week a New Zealand court handed down a two-year and nine-month prison sentence to Daniel Havili, 30, for his role in the killing of MMA fighter Fau Vake (per 1 News). Havili’s sentence comes after he plead guilty to charges of manslaughter and assault with intent to injure.
Vake was killed after he and his brother Ike Vake were attacked by Havili and three other men on Auckland’s Symonds Street last May. Havili struck the blow that killed Vake. Many have categorized that blow as a ‘coward’s punch’ or ‘sucker punch’.
Havili’s blow caused Vake to fall to the ground, which caused a fractured skull and a traumatic brain injury. Vake was hospitalized after the assault and placed on life support. Vake was taken off life support nine days later. He was 25-years-old.
Ofa Folau, Siofilsi Paongo, and Semise Pomale were also charged with attacking Vake. Falau plead guilty to assault and received six months of home detention. Paongo also plead guilty to assault with intent to injure and common assault. He will be sentenced later this year. Pomale has denied charges of common assault and will go to trial later this year.
Vake was a former XFC middleweight champion and a popular member of City Kickboxing. At that gym Vake trained with UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski, as well as Dan Hooker, Shane Young and Brad Riddell.
Since his death members of City Kickboxing have advocated for stronger penalties for individuals who use ‘coward punches’. Both Adesanya and head coach Eugene Bareman have questioned why New Zealand does not pursue murder charges for these incidents.
When arguing for stiffer penalties Bareman referenced a law that was passed in the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. In those jurisdictions, causing death by a coward’s punch can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
A similar law was proposed in New Zealand in 2018. However, it did not pass a vote in that country’s parliament.