His Life

Dad’s life snippet

Compiled with love by:
Douglas Vitale, Alafia Taumafai, Emmanuel Tesese, & Damelza Vitale

Introducing in the red corner, a soldier not only of Military and Arms, but a Soldier to Service.  Service for wellbeing, mentorship, council, empathy and mateship. Coming by way of Tūlāsi’u, Papa Sataua Savaii Samoa.  Debuted on Saturday 11th of March 1967.  A proud father of 5; Douglas, Damelza, Tioa, Victor & Vaughan, Big brother to 3; Tapaau, Nikotemo & Alafia, loving son of Tautali Lautalatoa and Ferila Taumafai and a unique type of uncle to 14.

The 70’s
Zack was raised by his grandmother Leitioa Sakaio between the years 1971-1974 in Samoa. He then made the journey over to Auckland, New Zealand with his grandmother in 1974 to reunite with the rest of the family.  It was in these primary school years, Zack was introduced to combat sports, Boxing specifically, under the tutelage of Uncle Limu ‘Billy’ Opetaia.  They lived in Otara for 6 years then moved to Christchurch in 1980.

The 80’s
Zack's introduction to Muay Thai.

In 1987, Zack was looking for work in the hospitality industry. He had secured an interview with a hospitality placement agency. His interviewer was a Japanese gentleman by the name of Makoto Nagato, later discovered to be a former member of the Yakuza

At the interview, they began talking about martial arts even before they had sat down. Makato had seen Zack and his 'asian eyes' and had instinctively connected him to martial arts.

He asked Zack what discipline he had trained in. The answer was 'Okonawa-Te Karate'. Zack had previously trained in Christchurch, New Zealand. Makoto asked Zack if he had heard of Muay Thai to which Zack replied, 'no.' At the time, Zack was adamant that his learnings in the mixture of martial art styles he had been exposed to, were unbeatable. He had used his style and always came out on top in street fights and in sparring bouts

Zack was unsure of this style that he was speaking about. Makoto was testing Zack's ability. Zack was feeling certain that this Muay Thai was a weaker style. In true Makoto fashion, he opened his office closest and pulled out a kick pad, which he then asked Zack to hold in order for him to demonstrate multiple kicking techniques right there and then. In this moment, Zack was brutally indoctrinated into the explosive art of Muay Thai.

When Zack arrived home that day after the interview, he could not wipe the smile from his face. He spoke nothing of the hospitality aspects of his 'interview' but rather, spoke endlessly about Muay Thai. This day was fate, something pre-destined and ordained by God.  

Zack's lifelong journey with the sport began on this very day.  He dabbled with almost every sport presented to him including snooker, table tennis, soccer, volleyball and basketball but grew a love for martial arts and rugby and he’d be the first one to tell you how good he was at all of them.  Zack finished high school and started his family, moving to Australia in 1989 to set up for the relocation of his family in 1991

The 90’s
The 90’s were spent in Brisbane performing various roles within the hospitality industry and running evening Muay Thai classes.  At one stage Zack was the manager of Bribie Island Hotel, running hotel operations by day and running evening muay thai classes in the hotels function room by night.  It was during this time Zack became a fight night promoter and took his love for the sport to another stage.  Zack connected the sunshine coast muay thai community and had his eldest son Doug and daughter Damelza working on the fight nights with his youngest daughter doing stranger danger demos center ring.  At every turn, Zack was a family man and involved them wherever possible.

The 2000’s
Zack moved to Western Sydney and instantaneously started classes in backyards, squash courts, fitness gyms and eventually venturing into partnerships opening martial arts gyms. The 1st gym bought one of the hardest-punching light-welterweight former IBF, WBC, WBA World champion, Kostya Tszyu to officiate its grand opening.  Zack continued his Promoter role, successfully holding numerous fight night events at St Mary’s Band Club before ending this decade seeing the other side of the world and experiencing vast cultures and countries such as Germany and Ghana before settling in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In June 2008, Zacks daughter Tioa joined him in Dubai, and 7 months later they were joined by Damelza, Victor and Vaughan.  In February 2009 KO Promotions UAE was born followed by KO Gym Dubai Marina in September 2009. 

The 2010’s
Zack pioneered combat sports in Dubai as KO Gym and Promotions hosted many sport celebrities, introduced a variety of fight night styles and grew young fighters into mature and confident individuals.   By February 2011 KO held over 10 Semipro/Pro fight nights, over a dozen corporate fight nights and officiated over 30 combat events in the UAE and later to be the first ever to promote a WBC World Title fight in the Mena Region.  Also hosted K1 Star seminars with Remy Bonjasky, Fadi Merza, Ogun Sesli & Buakaw Benchamek to name a few. 

The 2020’s
Zack enjoyed his last years with the new community he, daughter Tioa and his business partner Payam Honari built at Ringside Gym.  He continued to share his love of the combat arts with people of the emirates and it was evident with the outpour of messages sent from the entire combat sport community including international heartfelt condolences the family received from the the WMC, IFMA and 146 national federations in Australia and the United Arab Emirates. 

On Tuesday 5th of October 2021, the coronavirus pandemic devastated our family and took our Dad.  The following Friday we celebrated his life with 2 services.  On the 12th of October we cremated Dad so we can eventually take him home to Australia, and onwards to his beloved Samoa to rest until Jesus returns to take us all home where we will see our Dad again.