15 Apr 2020

Kiwi UFC champ helps out health workers

1:20 pm on 15 April 2020

The reigning New Zealand sportsman of the year, Israel Adesanya, is reaching into his pocket to help in the country's fight against Covid-19.

New Zealand UFC fighter Israel Adesanya.


The mixed martial arts star has paid for 10,000 masks and 1000 face shields to be supplied to the Whanganui District Health Board.

Whanganui DHB chief executive Russell Simpson said he was humbled by Adesanya's donation of the personal protective equipment (PPE), which had a value of several thousand dollars.

"The DHB is extremely grateful that Israel has DHB staff and the healthcare community in his thoughts as we fight against Covid-19.

"On behalf of all of the staff at Whanganui DHB we thank him for his generous donation."

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There was also a personal element to the donation for Adesanya, the middleweight division champion of the world's biggest mixed martial arts organisation, the UFC.

The Auckland-based fighter and his family immigrated from Nigeria to New Zealand when he was a teenager, making Whanganui their home.

His family still live there and his mother Tai is a nurse in the emergency department at Whanganui Hospital.

"I can't do it for the whole world, but I can help the communities I know - the places that I have been a part of," the 30-year-old said.

"It's a small way of helping, but a small thing can go a long way."

Adesanya was also supplementing the supply of PPE for Auckland and the Nigerian city of Lagos, where he was born.

He made history in February, becoming the first combat sports athlete to win a prize at New Zealand's annual Halberg Sports Awards.