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Viavia ‘VJ’ Tiumalu wins second World Fireknife Championship

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:32 a.m. HST, May 16, 2011

Viavia "VJ" Tiumalu won his second World Fireknife Championship at the Polynesian Cultural Center this weekend, defeating a three-time champion from Laie and a dancer from American Samoa making his first appearance in the finals.

Tiumalu, 19, of Orlando, Florida, last won the championship in 2008.

After performances Friday and Saturday during the intermission of the Polynesian Cultural Center's night show, Ha: Breath of Life, Tiumalu was declared the winner over Julian Maeva, 26, of Pago Pago, American Samoa, who made his first appearance in the finals.

David Galeai, 31, of Laie, placed third. Galeai won the championship in 1999, 2000 and 2003 and placed second in 2006. Galeai also choreographed Ha: Breath of Life.

Modern fireknife dancers twirl sharp knives that have both ends on fire, following in the tradition of Samoan warriors who performed the dance before battle to frighten their enemies and afterward to celebrate victory. 

Champions were crowned in the Junior Pacific and Open Group divisions on Thursday.

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