Facts about Nazario Fiakaifonu
Length and weight: 1.89m and 123kg
Judo competitor since 2011, ended his competitive judo career after the Pacific mini games in 2017. Competed at the world championships in 2011; Oceania championships 2012 and 2014 and the Olympic Games in London 2012.
He won bronze at the Pacific mini games in 2017 and won gold at the World Cup of Vanuatu also in 2017.
Nazario is a husband to Magalie Fiakaifonu, a lovely and smart young woman from Espiritu Santo island, a father of a 2 year old daughter, Tahlya (hopefully future judochampion) and owner of 3 companies of which 1 is a security company with over 200 local staff.
At a lunch Nazario tells me about his career, how he started judo when he was 8 years old when his older brother (Marceliano Fiakaifonu) took him to his first judo lessons. He liked it, the break falls, throwing and grabbing. But when he went studying overseas, he left judo for a while. It was to hard to train, study and make money to pay his study and living costs. When he came back to Vanuatu after his studies in 2009, he started to do judo again. He was not competing at that time, but when he met Brett Wright, a strength and conditioning trainer, Brett encouraged him to start competing since he saw physical and mental potential in him. He then started training to become a competitive judo athlete.
After the Pacific mini Games in 2017, he decided to stop competing. Both his wife and he are very busy with their social career and are parents of a 2 year old daughter. Although not competing anymore, he still is involved in judo because of 2 reasons. The first reason is to stay fit. The second reason is because judo taught and teaches him a lot of things in life such as discipline, showing respect, how to behave in general, judo gave him self-confidence and learns him to be humble. He also gained a lot of knowledge as an competitive athlete traveling overseas and feels obliged to share this knowledge with the new generation. He calls it “humility”.
Nazario grew up in a big family with 2 sisters and 3 brothers. All his families members were farmers, mineworkers, worked in agriculture or joined the French army like his dad (Nazario Fiakaifonu senior); after his services at the French army, his dad worked at the French school with his mom (Anamalia Fiakaifonu) in early 80’s. All the Fiakaifonu’s family went to Colardeau School thanks to the French government who gave scholarships. His parents also accommodated others kids from other familie members who lived in other villages (Forari and Nambatu Wallis) and all of them have to share food that Anamalia prepared for them, with a cup of tea to fill the empty space. But none of his brothers, sisters, cousins nor himself asked for more food even though they were hungry. They just looked for fruit trees and climbed in trees to pick banana’s, paw paw, mango, etc.
When he was young, he didn’t notice they were poor. It was whenever he was at school with mixed Ni-Vanuatu and children from expats. He saw the differences between his clothes and theirs, between his schoolbooks / material and theirs, their videos games and he had none. It then reminded him that he came from a poor family. After graduating from the private high school at Ecole Colardeau in Port-Vila, Nazario went overseas to study. He already met his future wife Magalie who got a scholarship to study in Efate and later overseas due to her very good results, and they lived together. Unfortunate, Nazario didn’t have a scholarship so in order to pay for his study and also for livings, he worked during the night and studied during the day. It was his future wife, Magalie, who encouraged him to continue studying even though it was hard to work as a security guard in the night and study daytime. Because she was so intelligent and developed very quickly, he knew he had to study hard to keep up with her. The other reason, both believe studying is important is that both experienced a poor life. They decided they wanted a better future for their own children. Now a days Nazario runs 3 companies of which one is a big security company with over 200 local staff.
His wife, Magalie, is Financial and Administration Manager at one of the well known business in Vanuatu, Sharper Image. She therefore is a perfect rolemodel for other women in Vanuatu since there are not many local woman in such important vacancies.
He continues telling me judo helped him a lot to achieve what he is right now. While nobody in his family thought he could start and run a big company, nor did expats believe he could, he knew he could start and be a successful businessman. He knew because he gained self-confidence through judo as well as perseverance. “Like in judo when you get tired, you still continue to attack in order to try to throw your opponent on the mat.”
Nazario knows what judo can bring to youngsters and that’s why he encourages kids to come to judo. For example in the neighbourhood he grew up, there are a lot of kids who don’t go to school because there parents can not pay the school fee. He wants to give them guidance in life through judo and takes them to the judo classes. He sponsors the fee for judo classes in hope judo will teach them important skills in life such as discipline, behaviour, respect, self-esteem, friendship and many more.
We would like to thank both Nazario Fiakaifonu and his wife, Magalie Fiakaifonu for sharing their life-experiences with us and the rest of the world. We wish them all the best and good luck with changing the future for their kids and the next Ni-Vanuatu generation!
NB: this interview has been read, edited where neccessary and approved to place on our website and social media by Nazario and Magalie Fiakaifonu. The picture of them is send by them with approval of placing it on our website and social media.