UFC stars unite with Vodafone Warriors

Warriors of three different kinds have been in contact this week.

First the Vodafone Warriors caught up with New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion Joseph Parker at training Tuesday.

An the next day UFC stars joined Vodafone Warriors players at the club’s gym at Mt Smart Stadium to show their backing for Kidz First Children’s Hospital’s Jammies in June campaign.

While the fighters and rugby league players traded tips on their respective sports, they were joined by children from the Kidz First Centre for Youth Health, involving them in training drills and activities.

UFC managing director NZ, Australia and Canada Tom Wright said the organisation would make a donation to the campaign through its UFC Community Works Program, designed to make meaningful contributions in communities where UFC events were hosted.

“We need to thank the Vodafone Warriors for inviting us to their home. When we heard about their involvement with Jammies in June, we were delighted to get involved too. It is a very simple idea that can make a major difference,” he said.

“Making sure children have the right pyjamas to keep them warm in winter will help keep them healthy, and ultimately out of hospital.”

Last Saturday night the Vodafone Warriors hosted a Onesie Party, collected pyjamas and also promoted the government’s home insulation scheme when they beat the Brisbane Broncos at Mount Smart Stadium.

Vodafone Warriors community relations manager Petrece Kesha said the club had long been a supporter of the Middlemore Foundation, which raises the funds needed to support Kidz First. 

“Manu Vatuvei and Glen Fisiiahi became cartoon superheroes for the Jammies in June posters, so it has been brilliant to host the UFC fighters and to encourage the organisation to join in something we really believe in, too,” she said.

Jammies in June is in its second year. Run by the Middlemore Foundation, it encourages the donation of cash or new flannelette pyjamas, which are given to children at the Kidz First Children’s Hospital and in the community.

Foundation community relations officer Ankita Luthra said more than 5500 pairs were distributed last year. 

“It is making a big difference and we’re proud so many businesses, service clubs, individuals and organisations get behind it,” she said. 

“To have the Vodafone Warriors on side is brilliant, and now with the support of the UFC Community Works Program, we can say we pack twice the muscle than we did before.”

UFC Fight Night Auckland: Te Huna v Marquardt: Saturday June 28 at Vector Arena. Tickets from www.ticketmaster.co.nz

Live on SKY Sport 3 from 6.30pm.

Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers: Sunday June 29 at Mt Smart Stadium. Tickets from www.ticketek.co.nz

Live on SKY Sport 2 from 3.30pm.

Vodafone Warriors at event: Manu Vatuvei, Konrad Hurrell, Feleti Mateo, Sam Rapira, Glen Fisiiahi, Siliva Havili, Ngani Laumape, Sam Lousi, Suaia Matagi, Charlie Gubb, Dominique Peyroux and Nathaniel Peteru.

UFC competitors at event: James Te Huna, Nate Marquardt, Dylan Andrews and Ross Pearson.