David 'Tuaman' Tua Shocker: Broke and Homeless As He Prepares For Title Run

Johnny WalkerCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2011

David Tua has seen millions of dollars vanish
David Tua has seen millions of dollars vanishSandra Mu/Getty Images

You could call it life imitating art, or vice-versa.

In the new FX boxing drama Lights Out, the main character, Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany), 40, is a retired heavyweight champion who has blown through millions of dollars, while living in a too-lavish manner with his family in a New Jersey mansion.

In a recent episode, Lights, having been forced to face the reality of his situation, is forced to tell his stricken wife, "It's gone. It's all gone."

It's a story that veteran heavyweight contender David "Tuaman" Tua, 38, can identify with all too well.

Tua, a native of Samoa who fights out of New Zealand, is in many ways the real-life embodiment of "Lights" Leary.

In the Sunday News, Tua has revealed that he and his family (Wife Robina, and two sons, Klein, 15, and Kaynan, 12), have been living in rental accommodations, and even had to move in with co-manager Inga Tuigamala at their lowest point.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

The Tuaman earned approximately $12 million from his 2000 loss to heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

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At one point, Tua owned a lavish penthouse apartment in Auckland, as well as other properties.

But problematic investments and a protracted legal battle with two ex-managers have left Tua in dire straits.

Tua's legal bills ballooned to $4.2 million, and to add to his woes, he was also hit by a $2.2 million tax bill from the New Zealand government, which froze the purses from his last three fights.

"Everybody has this picture of David Tua, that he lives a life [of luxury]... but no," Tua told the Sunday News.

Like "Lights" Leary, Tua has been forced to face up to the loss of his riches.

"I have sat down and really confirmed and put things into perspective. I have written things [goals] down and now want to make sure I stand by them."

Uppermost on Tua's mind is finding security and stability for his family. 

"The short-term goal is [hopefully] to put my family into a home," Tua vowed. "That is the important goal for this year."

Perhaps the most talented heavyweight on the current scene who has never won a world title belt, Tua is all too aware that time is not on his side.

"The reality is that I am not going to be a fighter forever," Tua declares. "If I get another opportunity of fighting for the title, and hopefully winning it, it would be fantastic."

"But if not, in five years that will be it."

In the meantime, Tua insists that the loss of material possessions has its upside.

"Money doesn't make you happy. So I don't miss it... no," the Tuaman says. "To be honest, I am a lot happier now than I was back in the days."

Tua sees his struggles philosophically as part of the roadblocks we all face in getting where we want to go.

"Sometimes you go through certain journeys in life," Tua reflects. 

"Sometimes they are simple, sometimes you get tested in ways where some people get through to the other side and others don't.

"I thank God each day that I got through to the other side."

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