By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
JOSEPH PARKER is hoping one day to be a global superstar like the All Blacks.
The New Zealand heavyweight defends his WBO title against Britain’s Hughie Fury at Manchester Arena this Saturday night.
It is his first fight in Britain and just his fourth outside of New Zealand or Samoa.
Parker feels it will be the start of him becoming worldwide known as he arrives in the hotbed of heavyweight boxing this weekend.
His country is more known for its all-conquering rugby side - but he wants that to change.
Unbeaten Parker said: “What I need to do to be as big as the All Blacks players? Well I’m taking the first step which is fighting overseas.
“As a world champion, you have to fight around the world. I do love fighting in New Zealand but I guess if you want to be a bigger name you have fight around the world.
“We are making that first step of moving overseas and making our mark around the world.”
New Zealand is not a country steeped in heavyweight boxing history but David Tua is their most recent star after he challenged for world honours and faced Lennox Lewis.
And dual-code rugby star Sony Bill Williams won his country’s heavyweight title in 2012.
But it was a heavyweight icon who inspired the Parker boxing story after his dad was named Dempsey, after Jack Dempsey.
“My dad couldn’t box because of a disability but he got us into boxing from a young age at three or four years old,” added Parker.
“I’ve had a real passion for the sport and my parents would come to watch me at tournaments when they could.
“Growing up, a fighter I really looked up to was David Tua, he did great things for boxing in New Zealand.
“Fighting for your country brings out the best in you. I was born in New Zealand but my parents are from Samoa and my heritage is Samoan.
“I’m trying to do both New Zealand and Samoa proud and they are both behind me.”