Keith Meretana of Wairoa, 6 feet, 16 stone 10 pounds, 30 years old, and holder of the heavy-weight wrestling title of New Zealand, left his native land recently for Honolulu under contract to a well-known wrestling promoter, Al Karasick, and he will go on from there for two years of contracts in the United States.
He began wrestling in 1951, under the tuition of Anton Koolman of Wellington, and for eight years wrestled mainly in the East Coast, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay and Wellington areas. In May, 1959, he turned professional and made his debut in Hawera. He has met Jack Bence (U.S.A.), André Drapp (France), Braka Cortez (Brazil), Rick Wallace (Australia) and several others. In the offseason from wrestling, he was a truck-driver in Wellington and participated in Maori Church Welfare work and was working with Nagti Poneke in this field. When the 1960 wrestling season opened in New Zealand, he challenged all the overseas visiting wrestlers: Lou Newman (U.S.A.), Herby Freeman (New York), Seymour Koenig (New York) and Ken Kenneth, a New Zealander who had returned from six years of campaigning in the United States. Kenneth claimed the New Zealand title, but rightly it belonged to Keith Meretana, since Kenneth had been absent from New Zealand for six years, and under New Zealand rules, the title is forfeited after two years' absence from the country. Mr Meretana has not yet been beaten by any New Zealand wrestler by a straight fall, and his claim to the title therefore stands. He is often billed as the New Zealand Maori title-holder, but as he points out, he is the New Zealand title-holder, irrespective of race. During 1960, he spent three months campaigning in Australia, and as a preliminary to his contests, he performed a haka, which was very popular with audiences. When he appeared on Australian TV, he wore his full Maori regalia, shown in the photograph on this page. Since he turned professional, Keith Meretana has won 25 matches, lost 25 and drew 5.
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