Mark Story: Enforcer will be missed

By Mark Story

2 comments
FAREWELL: Kevin Tamati is remembered by most for his fists, but will be missed in Hawke's Bay for his stellar community work with youth. PHOTO DUNCAN BROWN
FAREWELL: Kevin Tamati is remembered by most for his fists, but will be missed in Hawke's Bay for his stellar community work with youth. PHOTO DUNCAN BROWN

WHEN Kevin Tamati left Hawke's Bay last week the region lost its best chevron moustache.
It reached the top-lip greatness the heights of which only Freddie Mercury and Tom Selleck have ascended.

The Kiwis rugby league enforcer has left his role as co-ordinator of Hawke's Bay Community Action Youth and Drugs (CAYAD) to take up a business opportunity in Noosa.

In doing so he returns to the same coast of his most infamous sporting feat where, in June 1985, he traded dozens of punches with Kangaroos prop Greg Dowling at Brisbane.
It was a stoush of unforgettable feeling. The on-field opening round was followed by another sideline, where the two were both sent by the referee after the first round.

Rightly or wrongly, his fists that day snared sporting immortality. He lamented it later. "I played for New Zealand for seven years, 22 tests, 34 games, I had ball-playing skills and defence skills, and the only thing they keep showing is the Greg Dowling fight ... I've got to live with it."

The stoush rivalled only the underarm cricket incident between the same countries. Given that was four years earlier, maybe that's why the fight resonated so deeply with New Zealanders. It was a revisiting, a pugilistic redressing of one of Aussie's most shameful moments in sport.

The moustache has changed colour considerably since Dowling sent a flurry of punches its way on Lang Park. But, thing is, despite the infamy, it is his contribution to the wellbeing of our community subsequent to that fiery act, that he'll be missed for. All the best to you, Mr Tamati.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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