Jonah Lomu: "Dancing Bulldozer"
As in other sports and throughout the history of rugby we have had the opportunity to watch many legends. On this occasion, we pay attention to one player who played for the national team that has dominated the world of rugby for years. Of course, this is New Zealand, and we will talk about Jonah Lomu, many will say, the best player who has ever appeared on the rugby field. This guy ended up in his 40s due to kidney disease.
One of the greatest players in the history of rugby, Jonah Lomu, passed away in 2015 at the age of 40. The legendary and almost always unstoppable Lomu revolutionized rugby, as he played on the wing, with 192 centimeters and 119 kilograms of muscle, and he was incredibly fast for such a constitution - he ran 100 meters for 10.89 seconds. Lomu was an inspiration to people around the world and he brought rugby back on the map with his own hands, say his friends and rivals. Rugby legend Jonah Lomu, remembered as one of the strongest athletes in history, passed away in New Zealand at the age of 40. After a great career in which he wrote a history of rugby with a series of records, Jonah had to end his sports career in 2004 and due to kidney disease, he dedicated himself to the fight for life he suddenly lost after returning from a vacation in Dubai.
Lomu was the son of an immigrant from Tonga, who early discovered his passion for rugby, the national sport in New Zealand. Thanks to his physical predispositions and fanatical training, Lomu built his specific style of play and brought rugby global popularity, becoming, along with the traditional hack, the trademark of "All-Blacks". Because of his incredible strength and speed with which he conquered the terrain, he was called "the man of the rock", "the unstoppable force of nature" and "the dancing bulldozer". The English themselves admit that his performance against their selection in the semifinals of the World Cup in 1995 was one of the most dominant performances in the history of sports. Before the 1995 World Cup, he had only two appearances for the All-Blacks, and he reached the tournament team as a replacement after the injury of John Timu, and then conquered the world.
He scored seven tries in five games, including four against England, but in the semi-final against England, he captured the attention of the entire sports public when he bulldozed through several players and then literally ran over defender Mike Catt on his way to the try. The general opinion of people from rugby is that his performances at that World Cup attracted many sponsors who enabled rugby to go into professional waters. Jonah Lomu had the peak of his career in the period from 1995 to 1999, when, due to his corpulence and unstoppable penetrations on the field, he was called the "running rock". He recorded several records that have not been broken to date, such as winning 37 essays in 63 matches for his New Zealand.
His feats on the field were even greater because his 192-centimeter-tall and 119-kilogram muscular body has been battling serious, rare kidney disease since 1995. He missed games in South Africa in 1996 and almost the entire 1997 season. At the 1998 Commonwealth Games, he won a gold medal in rugby seven, a variation in rugby 15. At the 1999 World Cup, he scored eight tries in six games, including two in the semi-final defeat to France. Lomu remained in the national team until 2002, but his health deteriorated. He had to go on dialysis three times a week. After the 2002 transplant, he played for North Harbor in New Zealand and for the Cardiff Blues in Wales. "I was hoping I would be better, but I never was. But, you know, I would never change anything in my life," Lomu said.
He finally retired in 2006, as kidney disease affected his joints and bones, so there was a danger that if he continued to play, he would remain in a wheelchair. However, his health condition worsened in 2011, when the organs that were transplanted to him stopped performing their function, so a new transplant was performed, after which Lomu continued his peaceful and family life. Lomu spent the previous weeks with his family in Great Britain, where he watched the game of his "All-Blacks" who won the World Cup again, then he visited Dubai to return to his homeland yesterday and suddenly became a legend forever. He is survived by his wife Nadine and two sons.
Lomu opted for rugby when he watched his friend stabbed to death in a working-class suburb of Auckland, which kept him away from the streets and gangs. Rugby gave him not only a new direction but also a way to express the anger he felt because of growing up violently and because as a child he watched his father beat his mother. With his physical appearance, he was too big for a winger, and he seemed very intimidating as he ran through the opponent's defenses like a bulldozer. Lomu was able to talk to Nelson Mandela at the peak of his career, and Hollywood comedian Robin Williams was fascinated by him because he wore an "All Blacks" hat. Lomu was a guest of numerous parliaments and palaces.
His father Semisi Lomu was a factory worker, extremely religious, and strictly disciplined his children. His mother Hepi kept the family together and represented a dam between father and son. "At times, he was the best dad possible. Only when he started drinking would we disagree. He was very violent when he was drunk," Lomu said in a 2013 interview. "Mom was always there to protect the children. And when Dad wanted to beat the kids, she would block his way. It built so much in me." When he was one year old, Lomu was sent to Tonga, where he was raised for the next five years by his aunt, whom he thought was his mother. When he returned to New Zealand, he rebelled against his strict father, which led to alienation and led him to find a company on the streets.
"It hardened me to rugby. When I played and when I thought it was hard, I would just think of my father and that was enough for me to overcome the difficulties. That anger helped me," Lomu said. After the death of his friend, Lomu found a new direction at Wesley College in Auckland, famous for developing Polynesia's rugby talent. It was here that he first demonstrated his devastating combination of strength and speed. On the day when it was learned that he left this world too early, thousands of fans, friends, teammates and sports rivals said goodbye to him. The great influence of Jonah Lomu on rugby and his fame, which extended far beyond the traditional boundaries of the sport, was more than visible in the multitude of farewell messages. Heads of state, fans, teammates, and former rivals expressed shock and sadness after the departure of the legendary "All Black" wing" whose race and strength revolutionized rugby and made it one of the most famous names in the sport.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said that the thoughts of "the whole country are with his family". "He was and remains a legend of that sport," Key told reporters in Manila, where he was at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Sports Minister Jonathan Coleman said in the New Zealand Parliament that Lomu started his career in a modest working-class family in the southern suburbs of Auckland. "Jonah has proven that in New Zealand you can come from anywhere and get to the top," Coleman said.
Former New Zealand national team doctor John Mayhew, who was a close friend of Lomu and helped him during his nearly 20-year battle with kidney disease, said his death was "completely unexpected" and that his cause was a heart attack. Lomu acted healthy at the World Cup, and at one point led the fans in a hack. "I saw him at the World Cup and he worked very well. This is a devilish shock," said Graham Henry, the coach of the New Zealand team that won the World Cup in 2011. Lomu maintained his huge popularity even after his retirement, and he was appreciated even in countries where rugby is less known. He continued to travel the world as a sports ambassador, and perhaps the most popular was in England, where he had legendary status.
"I am very shocked by the news that Jonah Lomu has passed away. He is the biggest superstar and a fantastic human being. I am deeply saddened," said former England international Johnny Wilkinson. Lomu maintained his huge popularity even after his retirement, and he was appreciated even in countries where rugby is less known. He continued to travel the world as a sports ambassador, and perhaps the most popular was in England, where he had legendary status. "I am very shocked by the news that Jonah Lomu has passed away. He is the biggest superstar and a fantastic human being. I am deeply saddened," said former England international Johnny Wilkinson.
New Zealander Sonny Bill Williams said that Lomu was an inspiration for a whole generation of players from the Pacific islands. "For me, Jonah was the embodiment of that island spirit. You could say that he was the first real-world rugby star," said the New Zealand national team player. Former captain of "All Blacks", Tan Umaga, said that he "returned rugby to the map of the world with his own hands". "We have to make sure that it is understood and respected. 'All Blacks' are very popular, but wherever you go, the only player that is talked about is Jonah Lomu," said Umaga.
Numerous sports rivals remember with sadness the moments they shared with Lomu on the field. He always acted as a force of nature, he looked indestructible even when he withdrew due to kidney disease. He broke the hearts of opponents, including mine in 1999, but he was always modest on the field and played chivalrously, which is why, among other things, he was loved all over the planet, "wrote Sir Clive Woodward, who has led the English national team since 1997. until 2004. Woodward recalled a 1999 match with New Zealand when the night before the game he told his players not to trade any of them for a single New Zealand player.
After a few seconds of muttering among the players, Will Greenwood asked to speak. "Clive, we chatted a bit and ... uh ... we'd definitely trade Austin Hill for Jonah Lomu." "We all knew what kind of player he was and how important he was to New Zealand. He was their mascot and all our plans were focused on how to stop him. We didn't succeed," Woodward recalls. Messages from other athletes speak of how famous he was outside of rugby. One was written by the legendary captain of Liverpool, Steven Gerrard. "I was lucky enough to meet a legend, a sports icon that we will miss. An exceptional man who was an inspiration to people around the world," Gerard wrote.
Lomu's death particularly affected his former high school, Wesley College, which is mostly a Polynesian boarding school in Auckland, and the place where he first played rugby. Lomu weighed 120 kilograms as a teenager and ran 100 meters for 10.89 seconds, but the staff persuaded him to switch to rugby. Many who play rugby at that school today follow Lomu's example.