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Legendary Kiwi boxer and wrestler 'Big John' da Silva dies, aged 86

Former New Zealand boxer and wrestler John da Silva, QSM has died.

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He represented New Zealand at both the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. Source: Breakfast

"Big John da Silva", as he was affectionately known, represented New Zealand at both the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games in wrestling.

Following his retirement, da Silva went on to work with at-risk youth, where he helped to "support and rehabilitate troubled youth away from a life of crime", his family said last night in a statement.

Da Silva, of Ngāti Wai, died at his Great Barrier Island home surrounded by whānau last Thursday following a short bout of pneumonia.

“John’s enormous contribution to New Zealand spanned generations, not only through his successes in the sport of wrestling internationally but also through his work with young Māori and Pacific Island wards of the state, to which he gave his all,” the statement read.

“John da Silva will be remembered for many things, not least of which his towering presence, his immense mana and humility, and his uncompromising compassion and love for all who came into contact with him.

“John will be greatly missed.”

A private service for family and friends will be held next Friday in Auckland.

He was 86.