WATCH: Israel Adesanya's iconic acceptance speech after winning 'Sportsman of the Year' at the Halberg Awards

Vids 14/02/2020


Kiwi UFC fighter and all-round GC Isreal Adesanya made a speech to remember after winning 'Sportsman of the Year' last night at the Halberg Awards, and he did it in true Last Stylebender fashion.

He used his platform to take aim at the tall poppy syndrome that New Zealanders have, and called out everyone in the room to spend more time celebrating and less time hating when Kiwis have success.

"We have this culture of tall poppy syndrome which is messed up," he said. "Coming up in this country, I've seen it so many times.

"When you see somebody rising, you want to tear them down, because you feel inadequate and you want to call it humble.

"I am extraordinarily humble, believe me, but you'll never know that, because you never get to know me.

Understand this, if you see one of us shining, whether it be the netball team, the Blackcaps, the sailors, pump them up! Embrace them, because if they win, we win. If I win, you win! Understand that.

After his speech, Adeysanya elaborated on his comments. 

"I say what I feel and I felt to deliver my message correctly, I have to be authentic. Fine me, put your f**kin swear jar somewhere, I'll put in hundred dollar bills.

"It's part of our culture, it's messed up. If I see my friends looking good, I'm like 'man, you're looking good in that jacket', not 'look at you, you think you're the man in that jacket'. 

"It's bullshit how we always try tear our own down and it's like what are you doing?"  

Adeyansaya's first title defence is scheduled for March 7, when he faces Cuban Yoel Romero at UFC 248 in Nevada.

During his speech, Adeyansaya also paid homage to all the other combat sports stars New Zealand has produced over the years. 

"It's the first time combat athletes have been nominated, so you know, I have to do this for the old, the combat athletes of old. 

"Rest in peace, Jimmy Thunder... David Tua, Doug Viney sitting right there, Ray Sefo, Joseph Parker and now Israel Adesanya."