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New Zealand mas-wrestler about Youth Festival in Sochi

"Kia Ora!" - New Zealand heavyweight contender Zhan Matene greets me in Maori language.

We met with Zhan in the Internet space on the recommendation of the President of the Mas-Wrestling Federation of Australia and Oceania Carl Waitoa. Carl received a personal invitation from the International Mas-Wrestling Federation to take part in September at the "Kolmar Cup" in Vladivostok. He could not go, because he and his wife were waiting for the appearance of a new man on our Planet and offered instead himself a  New Zealand athlete. Thus, he changed the usual course of life of a young guy from Auckland.

It turned out that a guy was extremely open and sociable. Huge as a mountain, by his appearance he added the color of our great brethren of world mas-wrestlers. In his big dark and kind eyes, the ocean breeze seems to be waving coconut palms. And how he dances haka!

Of course, his person his person is of interest among the public. Will we get to know him better?

- Zhan, tell me about yourself first.

- My name is Zhan Matene. I was born on March 19, 1992 in Otahuhu, New Zealand. My father Garth Matene is Maori and my mother is Sally Matene who is Niuean. I have two sisters who are twins Zandalee and Shaneece and an older brother Colin who lives in Cairns, Australia.

I grew up in South Auckland and our family was always heavily involved in sports from touch, rugby, athletics and softball. My sister and myself’s excelled in sports at a young age and we just had a natural talent my sisters were quick and I was good at discuss, shot put and rugby.

- Tell us about your roots, about the culture of your people.

- In New Zealand English is our first language and my grandparents encouraged us to always stay in school and learn English first so we do not speak either Maori or Niuean. However, growing up I was always proud of my heritage and would always take part in cultural groups whenever I could. I had a natural instinct when I came to leading a haka, I know I may be silent a lot, but there is something leading that always gets me fired up. I want to learn both Maori and Niuean language one day so I can share this with my children.

Growing up I mainly had contact with my Niuean grandparents - Tuki Tasmania from Alofi, which is capital of Niue, and Melita Tasmania from Hakupu. They travelled to NZ after my grandpa had built his house in Niue so that they could find a better life for their children. They have been a part of my life since time when I was born, and support everything I do. When I arrived in NZ after my trip to Vladivostok, they were so proud of me they prepared a big dinner for me to have with the family. Family means a lot to me and I will always have time for my family. They support me with everything I do.

- I wonder wh ere a big man like you can work?

- I work 5-6 days a week 8-10 hours a day in Fire Protection Services. I have done this for three years and enjoy the work even though at times, I am restricted by space and I am not good with heights. I prefer this type of work because I move around a lot and see new places almost every week.

- And now tell, please, how you came to mas-wrestling.

- My journey with strength started about 2-3 years ago, I was training to lose weight so I could play rugby again. I was not strong and I didn’t know that I would end up becoming a strongman.

My friends I trained with were all stronger than me but over time I started to find power that I didn’t know I had . From there I was invited to train under New Zealand’s strongest master 40yr champion Afaese Paea at the Strength Pit Otara.  This is wh ere the real lifting began and he taught me everything to do with strongman. I joined Strength Pit because it instilled family values that I believe in and it’s a place you feel comfortable to train and the environment pushes you to excel. This year we took a team down to Carl Waitoa’s Strongman competition and this is how I found Mas-Wrestling. I do not train for mas-wrestling at the moment my focus is strongman but after being to Russia two times I have decided I will finish with Strongman for now and focus 2018 on Mas-Wrestling . I will use the techniques and all the lessons learned to teach people in New Zealand about Mas-Wrestling I would like to bring more people to compete, as I know we have more talent.

- Finally, what are your impressions of the Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi?

- Sochi is a vibrant and amazing city that you can find almost every season on any given day. It is cold, hot all in one . The places I spent the most time were Sochi Olympic park, this venue is very big and is easy to get lost if there was no volunteers to show you the way. The festival itself was amazing, it was big, a lot of activities and places to visit you couldn’t just stay within the one area you had to keep moving. Everyone was very welcoming dispite language barriers they made me feel at home.

This festival was good, as it brought together people from all walks of life. I am grateful to the general director of the «Kolmar Company», Mr. Sergey Tsivilev, for being able to come to Russia for this tremendous youth festival and to become a part of the large and friendly family of world mas-wrestlers.

I met people from multiple countries and made good friends within Mas-Wrestling from Brazil, Uruguay, Poland, Azerbaijan, Yakutsk and Crimea. All of whom spent time to share their knowledge of Mas Wrestling and also enjoy the week with laughter and socializing outside of the sport.

Zhan fixes a lot on his phone, keeps his blog, makes short video reports, which are very popular. A lot of people learn about mas-wrestling on the air, not only in New Zealand. 

In short, welcome aboard, Zhan Garth Matene.


Author: Лена Томская
Photo: Пресс-служба МФМ
Number of shows: 741
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