By Neil Reid
The Tuaman has announced his retirement from boxing, saying he has to walk away from the ring.
David Tua, aged 39, says he is no longer in a position to prepare physically and mentally for the top echelons of professional boxing.
The announcement ends his hopes of fulfilling his earlier self-proclaimed "destiny" of being crowned heavyweight world champion.
"See my boots ... one is on the ground and one is hanging up. Right now, as of this very moment, I am retired," Tua told the Sunday Star-Times.
"Where things are at, I am retired.
"I love it [boxing], it is my life. I may have retired from the game itself, but I will never retire from daily challenges ... you always face challenges, no matter what."
Tua turned pro shortly after stunning the boxing world by winning a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when aged just 19. Within the space of eight years, he had transformed himself from a kitchen hand to a multimillionaire sportsman.
But tough times soon struck after he unsuccessfully challenged for the world heavyweight title against Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas in late 2000.
His relationship with the management team of Kevin Barry and Martin Pugh ended with a costly six-year legal battle; court documents reveal Tua's legal bill had ballooned to $4.2 million.
For the past two years he has battled numerous family tragedies, a $2m bill from the Inland Revenue Department and the break-up of his marriage to his wife Robina, who recently did a tell-all interview with a women's magazine.
Tua said a motivation to "stay true" to himself, his family and friends, fans and the sport of boxing had inspired his decision to retire.
"I need to take care of a few matters," he said. "I really love and respect the fans, I really love and respect the game, but I need to approach it and honour it by being well-prepared ... I can't keep doing it the way it has been.
"That is why I need to sort it out before there is a chance of [ever] getting back into the ring."
The brutal nature of boxing meant that those who aimed for the top had to be able to approach it with their "whole being", Tua said. That was something he was currently unable to do.
"It is a lot more than taking care of the IRD. Sometimes the toughest fights are outside and inside," he said.
"Unfortunately, it is not like rugby or league where on the day of the fight you can turn up and not feel the best and someone is there to take your spot. In boxing, you can't have a bad day ... on the actual day you still have to take the walk."
Tua will walk away from heavyweight boxing with no rewards – financially and asset-wise – to show for it.
After splitting with Robina last year, he now sleeps in his modest Onehunga, South Auckland, boxing gym – Kamp Tua – or at his mother's house.
He described his current paid job as "senior cleaner" at Kamp Tua, with his workday starting at 4am.
It's a far cry from when he was paid a $12m purse for his unsuccessful world heavyweight challenge against Lewis in Las Vegas. But looking back, he said he had no regrets.
"I am very happy with what I have been able to accomplish so far. I don't live regrets. And success for me will be my boys. That is it.
"There is nothing to be sad about. I have my health. Every day above ground is a day in paradise.
"Sometimes we take advantage of the greatest miracle, and that is to be alive."
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