Meet the ultimate former student

UFC star Soa Palelei with Willetton students Bo Davie, Hayley Kenyon, Lance Villaneuve, Mitchell Stanbury, Ryan Keepa, Olivia Waight and Cheyenne Burrell. Picture: David Baylis d412827
UFC star Soa Palelei with Willetton students Bo Davie, Hayley Kenyon, Lance Villaneuve, Mitchell Stanbury, Ryan Keepa, Olivia Waight and Cheyenne Burrell. Picture: David Baylis d412827

Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei defeated Pat ‘HD’ Barry via a first round knockout, the only Australian of seven to win his fight.

‘There are some nerves when so many people are watching you but I have been in the ring a lot before,’ Palelei said.

‘The crowd really gets behind you, it was a sold out venue and I won quite impressively.’

He graduated from Willetton Senior High School on a basketball scholarship and visited the school on December 12 after his win to talk to the students about his career and achieving his dreams.

Palelei said he had been training in martial arts for 15 years and turned professional in 2002, starting with mixed martial arts (MMA).

‘UFC is the fastest growing sport in the world, overtaking sports like the NBA,’ he said. ‘It has become mainstream and the whole world is watching.’

Palalei said UFC was safer than boxing because there was a lot of grappling and less focus on landing hits to the head.

‘The cage gives off the perception of danger but it actually keeps the fighters safe from falling out of the arena,’ he said.

‘There is a lot of blood mostly from hits to the nose, but there are also a lot of rules.’

He has a professional fight record of 20 wins and three losses.

Palalei is also looking to get his film career rolling and was cast in the feature film Son Of A Gun starring Ewan McGregor.

He also had to turn down roles in Battleship and Transformers 3 due to fighting commitments.