David “Brown Buttabean” Letele to retire in 2016

Benjamin Watt 21/12/2015

World Famous in New Zealand Boxer David “Brown Buttabean” Letele, has announced that he plans to retire after 2016.

Letele’s final fight will be at New Zealand’s Annual Fight for Life event at the end of 2016, against Loni “The Tongan Bear” Uhila for the third time, for the Duco Events Corporate World Heavyweight Title. According to Boxrec, Letele has so far had 11 pro bouts winning nine of them.

Letele first came onto the scene in August 2014, on the undercard of Joseph Parker vs Brian Minto, where he fought Lopini “Horse” Vatuvei. Since then the Promoters (Duco Events) made it a tradition to have Letele fight on all of their undercard, against either a local or a celebrity. Duco also made their own title for Letele’s bouts ‘the Duco Events Corporate World Heavyweight Title’. Letele won the title in October 2014 against Jonah Lomu’s brother ‘John Lomu’. In a space of ten months, Letele defended the title five times, however he lost the title on his fifth defence against local Kaleni Taetuli in August 2015. Letele won back the title in October 2015, unfortunately losing the title a couple of months later against Loni “The Tongan Bear” Uhila. The other inaugural title that Letele has won is called “The King of the Coromandel”, he won the title against Tamati Keefe in March 2015.

His ring name was inspired by Eric Esch name “Butterbean”. They also share a similar boxing schedule with all of Letele’s fights which so far were only four rounds. 94 % of Esch’s 91 fights were four rounders as well.

When ask what prompted the decision to retire after 2016 he stated “I’m getting older and I’ve already got so many injuries from rugby league. Nine knee ops, Torn bicep & tricep and heaps of others. I have about 10 fights before my rematch so I’m happy to call it. I’m not in boxing to be the world champ. I’m in it to encourage people that it’s never too late to start again.”

Letele plans on having a big 2016, as he dubs it “Road to the Title”, meaning the Duco corporate title. “I’ll be fighting about once a month here, Samoa and in Oz. You can expect my last year to show a progression in my boxing skill and even more fireworks.”


Apart from his Inaugural titles, he has not won a boxing title or tournament as of yet, However there has been talk behind the scenes of a potential title fight, which Letele is certainly interested in. “I’d fight for any title or tournament I’m offered if the details are right for me.”

Over the last two years there has been hundreds of call outs to Letele. Most notable is former Rugby League player and former Australian Heavyweight Boxing Champion John Hopoate. Letele has only called out one person, which was Rugby league player, Rugby player and former New Zealand Heavyweight Champion and former WBA International Champion Sonny Bill Williams. The most common dream fight that has been talked about was Brown Buttabean vs Butterbean fight, however despite Duco’s best efforts to make it happen, Butterbean was too old and too many health problems to accept.

Outside of boxing, Letele is well known for his weight loss motivation group which has almost reached 5000 followers on facebook. Letele himself has lost over 80 kgs or over 170 Ibs with the help of his boxing career. From an early age he endured a uniquely tough upbringing. His father, Dave, joined the Mongrel Mob at just 13. Six years later, he became Auckland president. That troubled path led to six years in jail for armed robbery. Letele’s uncle also spent half his life behind bars. Since their release they helped form a foundation – called Grace – to support families facing similar problems. But, at the time, Letele was forced to find his own way in the world. Not long ago Letele, who played professional rugby league in Australia and France. Tipped the scales at a whopping 210 kg. His weight blew out after suffering difficult, lonely times in Australia. The problems stemmed from taking on two supermarkets, only for finance to bottom out. Close friend and former Selwyn College classmate, Duco promoter David Higgins, was concerned about Letele’s health and offered him a lifeline on Parker’s undercard. Having moved back to Auckland he’s now doing everything possible to support his three sons.

After retiring from boxing, Letele plans on opening his own gym, become a personal trainer and work with youth to inspire others. In his final year he is ready to fight anyone, but he has his eye on trying to fight Paul Gallen. When being asked on what his favourite moment of his boxing career he stated “Favorite moment was winning my rematch against Kaleni.”

Letele was asked if he had a message for his fans, haters and his future opponent, he replied with “To all my buttabeaners. Keep believing in yourself. Anything is possible with hard work . Thank you all for the support. As for my haters thank you too . Thank you for taking the time to hate me . For my future opponents. .. train hard cos I am.”