My Christmas: Soa ‘the Hulk’ Palelei, MMA fighter

Soa 'the Hulk' Palelei. Pictures: Andrew Ritchie d476690
Soa 'the Hulk' Palelei. Pictures: Andrew Ritchie d476690

Mixed martial artist Soa “The Hulk” Palelei

What does Christmas mean to you?

It’s family time; it’s about spending time with your loved ones.
It’s probably the only day where people have time off and get to rejoice and spend it together, eat and be merry.

How will you be celebrating Christmas this year?

In South Lakes with family; everyone is included.
I’m Tongan so we have a massive family and Christmas is the biggest time of year for us.
It’s a time to catch up and eat everything.
We’ll be eating traditional foods like taro, corned beef, pig on a spit, prawns and seafood.
There will be heaps and heaps of food. It’s all you can eat, all day.
We don’t play any sport, we’re too full.

What are your favourite memories?

Watching the kids open their presents.
We were kind of poor as a kid and I didn’t get any gifts, so my favourite moment is getting to give something that you never had and watching your kids open their presents.

What is the best gift you’ve given?

I think love, showing that love and happiness and smiling. No gift can beat that.
My mum passed away a couple of months ago and that’s made me rethink things.
You don’t realise until you lose someone close to you that life is short.
Mum used to say to me, “Soa, fame and money will mean nothing when I’m gone” and now I understand.
I think I should have taken her to a cafe, should have taken her to a ball, should have taken her to a movie premiere.
You can’t turn back time.
Mum was a big part of Christmas celebrations and loved to cook.
I’ve still got my dad around, so I won’t make the same mistake.

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