Lion’s Roar premiered with Toks Fale introducing himself and giving a brief history of his journey as the first non-Japanese wrestler to train at and successfully graduate through the world-renowned NJPW system in Tokyo.
By immersing himself in the training and the Japanese culture, Fale earned the respect of NJPW and was able to open his own Dojo in his home of South Auckland, New Zealand.
The first-ever NZ Dojo tryouts attracted a variety of applicants with different skills. Tony Kozina (Pro-Wrestling Head Coach) led the applicants through a variety of workouts. The exercises were designed to test each person mentally and physically as Toks Fale looked for the most important attribute – a resilient heart.
Kozina spoke of his own pro wrestling career that began 24 years ago. He pointed out at the infancy of one’s journey, there is a great demand on their time, body and mind, as well as their own resources. But success will follow if they can endure the challenges – especially if they really want to succeed.
Fale shared the great rewards that come with arduous work and sacrifice. Fale discussed his main goal was to take care of his parents.
Fale woke up in his waterfront apartment in Auckland city to start his day, a stark contrast from his childhood. He openly shared about growing up in South Auckland, using his circumstances as motivation to strive for a better future.
A Land of Milk & Honey
Fale explained the effect that the COVID19 restrictions have had on business. However, the downtime allowed Fale to focus more on growing the Dojo and scouting potential talent.
Fale was invited back to his high school, De La Salle College for a careers evening. That night, Fale brought with him the NZ Dojo coaches, Kozina, Mark Tui, and Tangi Ropati to present professional wrestling, (through NZ Dojo) as a potential career option.
The Hearts of Men
Back at the NZ Dojo tryouts, the applicants were feeling the strain of the workouts, Kozina described the wrestling profession as rewarding with the condition that you should always serve the business: “It is a rags to riches lifestyle. It is a ‘what have you done for me lately’, industry,” as Kozina best put it.
Fale followed up on how wrestlers struggle with their mental wellbeing. Fale emphasised that mental toughness was imperative to a wrestler’s survival.
The applicants then gathered in the ring, each person was given three minutes to execute some exercises. Kozina observed from previous intakes at the Dojo, that a good attitude is what will allow a student to blossom.
Fale gave the applicants the opportunity to ‘appeal’ to the trainers and show a quality that made them stand out.
A to B
Fale and Kozina met at the Wildfire restaurant in Auckland city where they deliberated over the applicants from the NZ Dojo tryouts.
Although Fale would have taken everyone that attended, there were only three spots available. Fale’s desire was to teach the trainees how to be disciplined as it is the fastest way to get from A to B.
The House – Show Me Your Roar!
The trainees converged on the Dojo House where they would be staying throughout the duration of the three-month training. Coaches Fale, Kozina, Tui, and Ropati welcomed the class that consisted of students from various levels of wrestling experience. The class is not complete however as several trainees have yet to arrive from Australia.
Fale took the trainees through an exercise by asking them to show their roar to which some of them responded reluctantly. Yuto Nakashima, who is an NZ Dojo graduate and presently an NJPW young lion referred to the roar; that it must be projected and amplified both in and out of the ring.
The purpose of the exercise was to see where the trainees were with their responses. Fale said that he could hear 10% of each roar and by the end of the intake he expects to hear the roars projected at 110%.
Watch Lion’s Roar Episode 1 on NJPW World