Author(s): Soa Palelei
Eleven-year-old Soa Palelei was headed straight for trouble when he ran away from home. But from this young age, he learned how to survive, how to be resilient. He was an all-round talent at sport with brawn to spare, playing basketball, rugby, and training in freestyle and Greco wrestling, as well as Brazilian jiu jitsu. When he discovered mixed martial arts (MMA), it was love at first sight.
Soa's involvement with MMA officially started in 2002, when he made his professional debut. It was a dream come true when he was first signed by the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) for four fights and then the bottom fell out of his world. One night in LA in 2007 he froze in the spotlight, lost a fight and his world came crashing down. All his supporters disappeared overnight. He came back to Australia, sat on the couch and ate ice-cream, stacking on 40 kilos. He fell into depression and it looked like fighting was over forever. It took him four years of hard work to get back to the top, and it's from this struggle that he learned valuable lessons that he wants to share. 'If you keep on hustling all day every day you will see your dreams come true.'
Multiple championships followed, and a winning-streak on the world stage that spans two-and-a-half years. The towering 193 cm, 120 kg muscle-clad fighter is known for his hulk-sized heart and his never-say-die attitude. He has planned for life after fighting, with multiple sponsorships and appearances in films including working alongside Ewan McGregor in 2014's Son of a Gun.
Standing a massive 193cm and weighing in at 130kg, Soa 'The Hulk' Palelei is an Australian mixed martial artist who competed in the heavyweight division of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). He was known for his aggressive style, all but one of his fights ending in a stoppage. Of Tongan descent and born in 1977 in Newcastle, New South Wales, Palelei made his professional MMA (mixed martial arts) debut in September 2002. He was undefeated for the first two years of his career, going 7 - 0 with all wins either by TKO or submission. He had a brief stint in the UFC in 2007, losing to Eddie Sanchez by TKO in the third round. Released from the promotion shortly thereafter, he made it back in 2013 and signed a multi-fight deal. He officially retired in 2015. In recent years, Palelei has established a mentoring program for teens called Hulk Kids MMA and has had roles in two feature films. Palelei lives in Perth with his wife and three children. soathehulk.com