This article discusses the baddest man in pro wrestling, Bad Luck Fale. Along with his fellow Tongans and ‘Firing Squad’ members, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and King Haku, this Polynesian branch of the Bullet Club are causing all sorts of havoc at the New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax tournament series. Although Fale is currently a prominent topic of discussion in the wrestling world, this piece focuses more on his life as a youngster growing up in New Zealand and the ongoing work he serves in his South Auckland community. I had the privilege of interviewing Fale during his visit back to NZ, to which I gained some insight into the man who is nicknamed, the “Under Boss”.
Ite Lemalu: Please share your memories about your family’s journey, migrating from Tonga to New Zealand?
Bad Luck Fale: We moved from Tonga to New Zealand in 1989. It was a whole new world, but it wasn’t an easy life. Mum, Dad, and my older siblings struggled with multiple jobs to look after us. We lived in Onehunga (central Auckland) then moved to Mangere (South Auckland) in the early ’90s.
Ite Lemalu: What are some of your first memories of watching wrestling?
Bad Luck Fale: The earliest memories of wrestling was when we were still in Tonga. My grandfather had a wrestling videotape, and we watched it over and over, for years. I remember watching Hulk Hogan, King Haku and Andre the Giant, who stood out.
Ite Lemalu: Could you describe your experience as a student at De La Salle College, specifically your time playing for the 1st 15 rugby team: How much did this school prepare you to transition from rugby to pro wrestling?
Bad Luck Fale: De La Salle gave me the chance to get to where I am today. There were times where I couldn’t afford to pay for my school fees so my 1st 15 coach would help me out, and that wasn’t just me. The school still helps those who are in need to this day.
Ite Lemalu: When you first arrived in Japan, how were you at adapting to the culture?
Bad Luck Fale: I arrived in Japan only knowing “Konnichiwa” and expecting to see samurai warriors walking around; it was a very different world. It was not easy at all. Having to learn the language and getting used to the food.
Ite Lemalu: The number of Pacific Islanders in wrestling has grown a lot in the last 15 years; other than and yourself and the Islanders you work within Japan; who are some other Pacific wrestlers that you’ve met?
Bad Luck Fale: I’ve met the great Rikishi and his son and nephew. I’ve received nothing but love.
Ite Lemalu: In regards to the working relationship between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor; have you considered working for ROH or basing yourself in the United States?
Bad Luck Fale: I actually I haven’t. But if the opportunity arises who knows.
Ite Lemalu: What are your plans for the G1 Climax tournament?
Bad Luck Fale: Like I have every year. I aim to stamp my mark as one of the greats and make sure the voice and presence of our Polynesian people are noticed.
Ite Lemalu: What inspired you to set up the Fale Dojo and locating it in South Auckland?
Bad Luck Fale: The reason I based it in south Auckland is to give the young people there the same opportunity I had. Not all of them play rugby, netball etc. This is just another option. Henare is making a huge impact on the business at the moment and he will be a superstar in the near future. My goal is to open up Fale Dojo in Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa.
Ite Lemalu: During your spare time, you invest a lot back into your community. Could you share some of the work that you’re involved in?
Bad Luck Fale: I like to share my struggles and journey with the local youth groups and schools. Hopefully, some of them will realize that they too can make it.
Ite Lemalu: Who has been your favourite opponent so far; and is there a wrestler you’ve yet to lock up with that you’d like to wrestle?
Bad Luck Fale: Thus far, Shinsuke Nakamura. My dream match is to team up or wrestle against the man King Haku.
Ite Lemalu: Before we close off, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Bad Luck Fale: Cheer me or boo me. Thank you!