Kiwi UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is calling for more serious consequences for “coward punchers” after a teammate at his mixed martial arts gym has been left fighting for his life due to an alleged assault at the weekend.
Fau Vake, 25, has been left in critical condition after an incident on Sunday morning which saw four men charged with a number of offences ranging from common assault to injuring with intent.
A police spokesperson confirmed to 1 NEWS this morning Vake is still in a critical condition in Auckland Hospital after a report surfaced earlier this morning claiming he had died.
Police have not described how Vake was injured but said he had been taken to Auckland Hospital in critical condition.
Adesanya, who himself had his jaw broken in 2012 when hit from behind, said in a statement this afternoon he wants to bring attention to the lack of legal recognition of the seriousness of the “coward punch”.
“I am distraught. My gym brother may die because of the gutless actions of these men,” Adesanya said.
“In the past decade there have been numerous deaths from punches thrown when people are not looking.
“Given the massive publicity these crimes have received, no one is dumb enough to think there is not a serious risk of death.
“There is no excuse, it should be considered attempted murder or murder.”
City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman added he can’t understand why the issue has not been addressed sooner.
“The Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria all introduced coward punch laws in 2014,” Bareman said.
“In 2018, the New Zealand Parliament rejected a bill in its first reading to create a coward punch offence with a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
“This means there is absolutely no deterrent in place to make people think twice about this type of attack.
“It’s sad to see Australia so far ahead of us in dealing with these evil acts. If New Zealand law doesn’t allow for a more serious penalty, we should all be pushing for it.”
Since being taken to hospital, Vake has been surrounded by friends and family with large groups – including those from City Kickboxing – visiting him since Sunday to show their support.
Vake is 2-0-0 in his professional MMA career and was a training partner of Adesanya’s.