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Bodybuilding For Me: Mr Suva

Not everyone has to play rugby. There are other sports people can excel in if they work hard, and bodybuilding is the one I chose- Saimoni Leuta. His younger brother, Matai Leuta, 29, plays wing for the USA Eagles 7s team and has also made three appearances for the USA 15s side.
13 Jul 2019 14:05
Bodybuilding For Me: Mr Suva
Saimoni Leuta (second from right) with other bodybuilders during the Suva Classics at the Holiday Inn, Suva on July 6, 2019. Photo: Pratik Deoji Photography

When Saimoni Leuta won the Mr Suva title at last Saturday’s Suva Classics, he thought back to 15 years ago when he first started bodybuilding.

Leuta began lifting weights when he was 16 but did not take bodybuilding seriously until after his teen years.

The former Assemblies of God High School student, now 37, was never the biggest, nor the strongest boy in his class.

He describes himself as the ‘skinny and small boy’ who tagged along with his rugby-player friends to do weights once in a while.

“I was always the smallest in the group. I was never born big,” he said.

Leuta continued going to the gym after leaving high school.

He later noticed himself putting on muscle much faster than his peers, which spurred him to work even harder at the gym.

The Salia, Nayau, Lau Island native’s first taste of competition came when he was 22-years-old in an under-65 kilogrammes division event.

“Not everyone has to play rugby. There are other sports people can excel in if they work hard, and bodybuilding is the one I chose,” he said.

“The first time I took part, I beat the guy that had won that division three times in a row. After that, I knew bodybuilding was the sport for me.”

Fifteen years after that win, Leuta earned a place in the national team going to October’s South Pacific Bodybuilding Championship in Noumea, New Caledonia.

He won gold in the Under-85 category at the Suva Classics before claiming the Mr Suva crown in an ‘emotional’ night at Suva’s Holiday Inn.

“Winning the title was an emotional moment for me,” Leuta said.

“The first guy I thought of was Jack (late Jekesoni Yanuyanudrua) who is a friend and mentor of mine.”

Dubbed the ‘Fijian Superman’, Yanuyanudrua shot to fame last year after becoming the first Fijian to win the Mr South Pacific crown – the same title Leuta is now eyeing.

“I want to win to honour Jack. I competed with him for six to seven years. We also represented Fiji in the same competition together last year and we were great friends.”

While Leuta has represented Fiji in the past, the service station attendant at Mobil, Naulu, says the experience always overwhelms him.

He won bronze in the under-80 category at the South Pacific Championships in Suva last year and wants to go a level higher in Noumea.

“It’s always a pleasure and privilege to carry my country’s flag and I will do it again with my head held high in New Caledonia,” Leuta said.

Leuta’s story of hard work and perseverance holds many lessons for budding athletes.

But sporting prowess also seems to run in the family.

His younger brother, Matai Leuta, 29, plays wing for the USA Eagles 7s team and has also made three appearances for the USA 15s side.

The Metro Gym-based bodybuilder considers Matai as one of his main sources of inspiration, someone who constantly encourages him to do better and improve.

He also gives a lot of credit to his wife of 12 years, Sera Leuta, for keeping him grounded and focussed on his goals.

“I don’t think I would have reached this far without my wife – she is very supportive. It took me so long to win a major title and to be honest, I would have quit a long time ago without her,” he said.

“My mother, Mere Griffin, and Matai have also been very supportive and continue to push me to do my best.”

Leuta’s immediate focus is to win silverware at the South Pacific Championship later this year.

However, he also has one eye on the prestigious Mr Fiji title, currently held by Suva bodybuilder Harvey Ligairi.

Leuta knows it will be a tough task to beat the reigning champion, but is looking forward to the challenge.

“If I win, I win; If I lose, I lose and congratulations to the winner. But I think I have a shot at the Mr Fiji title and I will give it my all to win,” he said.

“I’ve told my wife that once I get my hands on that Mr Fiji title, I’ve done enough in the sport.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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