Media advisory #22 Combat sports star donates to fight against COVID-19 


15 April 2020


Whanganui martial arts exponent Israel Adesanya has joined the fight against COVID-19.


Adesanya, voted New Zealand’s sportsman of the year at last year’s Halberg Awards and winner of the top prize at the Whanganui Sports Awards, has dipped into his own pocket for face masks and face shields for Whanganui’s frontline health staff.


“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,” said Adesanya, who is also supplementing the supplies of personal protective equipment for Auckland, where he now lives, and the Nigerian city of Lagos where he was born.


“It’s a small way of helping, but a small thing can go a long way.”


The donation of 10,000 three-ply face masks and 1000 eye protection face shields – with a value of several thousand dollars -- is expected to be delivered to Whanganui District Health Board within the next two weeks.


Whanganui DHB chief executive Russell Simpson said he was humbled by Adesanya’s generosity, that he had personally contributed to his community through the purchase of masks and eye protection for healthcare workers.


“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.”


Adesanya came to Whanganui with his parents as a teenager, and his family still live here, mum Tai being a nurse in the emergency department at Whanganui Hospital.


It was here that he developed an interest, and growing prowess, in mixed martial arts, starting a kickboxing career that has brought international fame and success. He is now UFC middleweight champion and a superstar of combat sports.