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The rise of Joe Levula

March 14
08:23 2013

From left: Isimeli Radrodro, Jesse Owens, Josefa Levula. Photo: SHIRLEY TUISESE

Source: FIJI SUN SPORTSDESK

(As part of the Fiji Rugby Union’s 100th year celebration we will be publishing stories and photos from the FRU CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION of our former greats and how it first started)

Josefa Levula was born on June 15, 1930. He grew up in Narewa, Nadi and is remembered worldwide for his outstanding feat on the rugby field. Honored by rugby players and well regarded for his unorthodox high knee action and his exceptionally long strides bursting down the sidelines of the famous fields on which he played while representing Fiji during the decade of the 60s.
In 1951, over 3000 fans gathered around Buckhurst Park to witness the finals between Suva and the Northern District. To the amazement of the crowd, a 21-year-old Levula scored four tries to end Suva’s 10 year stranglehold on the trophy. The same year, he toured with the Fiji rugby team to New Zealand where he scored a brace of tries to help the Fiji team down the Maoris 21 – 14. He attained New Zealand Rugby’s honour that of being nominated as ‘Player of the Year’ The citation for this honour reads:
“Josefa Levula is indeed a great wing three-quarter, we believe the world’s best”
The New Herald of July 4, 1989 described Levula’s play as “his high-stepping action was allied to an aggressive temperament, and many a Caucasian face pale at the thunderous approach of a menacing figure whose eyes burned like the light of an express train”
Levula followed his talents to wherever it led him to. He was the first ever athlete representing Fiji in Athletics to finish on the podium during the Australian Championship. In February 1954, Josefa deposed his competitors during the heat of the 100-yard dash to prevail into the main final with an amazing time of 9.72s. In the finals, he was only beaten by Hector Hogan who later equaled the world record a month following the Australian Championship. Levula also produced a bronze medal performance in the 220 yard dash.
Champions keep playing until they get it right and Levula was a grand example as he participated in rugby, athletics and rugby league. Levula is a true inspiration for all our rugby players.

Did you know?

The legendary Jesse Owens (first black man to win the 100 metres gold medal at the Olympic Games) heard that there was a man from the Fiji Islands who ran the 100 yards in under 10 seconds.
Owens wanted to meet this man and met him in Malaya.
The man was none other than Flying Fijian Josefa Levula. The late Levula promoted unity through sports- rugby and athletics while serving in Malaya.

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