For most people, winning a world boxing belt would be the highlight of a lifetime. For Cook Islander Emmanuel “E-Man” Carlos, it wasn’t even the highlight of his evening.
Carlos, whose mum is a Vakatini from Rarotonga, beat Ali Elrich to win the vacant International Boxing Organisation International Middle Title, in Melbourne this weekend.
“I’m a Vakati on mother’s side. My father is a Samoan. I’m very proud of my Polynesian background that I bring on the night of fight,” he told Cook Islands News afterwards.
“It hypes me up and I hope to my culture proud.”
He walked out to Cook Islands drums; “The atmosphere was electric.”
But the fight was a close call: “The worst moment was nearly getting stopped in the eighth round. But I got through it.”
He was awarded the belt – and then, in front of thousands of people, he got down on bended knee in front of his girlfriend of seven years, Nikky.
“I called my fiancée out and proposed to her,” he says. “She was crying with happiness – I think!” And he laughs.
The best result of all? She said yes.