A RUGBY-mad gangster with “Notorious” tattooed across his face has moaned that “it will be hard to get a job with my tatts”.
Ex-con Puk Kireka, 31, joined the Mongrel Mob – one of New Zealand’s most feared biker gangs – in 2008.
But now, the dad-of-three hopes that after shedding weight, becoming a key player in a North Island amateur rugby team and beating a meth addiction he can get a job, despite his distinctive facial inking.
He acknowledges it’ll be a hard path, though – given some of the negative reaction he receives while playing winger for Tamatea Rugby Club in Hastings.
Kireka spoke with Hawke’s Bay Today sports reporter Shane Hurndell, after the latter heard a spectator on the sideline commenting: “What’s that mobster doing on the field… he’s giving our code a bad look”.
He told Hurndell that he had shed 31kg thanks to his rugby coach encouraging him to embark upon a 13-month-long fitness programme.
This was despite him playing very little sport while at school.
Kireka made his first court appearance at the age of 16, but “hasn’t been back since 2016”.
The ex-lag told Hurndell he’d been “drug-free for the last four years” after kicking a meth addiction while last caged – one of two stints in prison.
Aiming to become “healthy, look and feel good,” Kireka said he realised it would be tough getting employment as the lower part of his face is emblazoned with the word “Notorious” in the gang’s red and black colours.
He said: "I know it will be hard to get a job with my tatts."
Kireka, whose mates dubbed him an “inspirational mongrel” when he shared photos of his facial inking on Facebook last year, hasn't indicated whether he'll now get the huge tatt removed.
In July, Kireka takes the next step on his career path to gaining a job in the sporting industry, however, when he starts a level four sport and recreation course for a diploma – and has ambitions to get a degree.
He told Hurndell: “I will always be a mobster but it’s important to show we can have better lifestyles.
“I want to bring some of the others [fellow gang members] on board this better lifestyle.”
The dad is concerned that many Mongrel Mob gangsters are “ruining their lives” by “drinking and smoking”.
The group’s criminal activities include serious violence – including extortion, armed robberies and murder – selling drugs and possessing weapons.
Described as one of the “fiercest” gangs in the world, cops in New Zealand have spent decades targeting its supply and distribution of methamphetamine across the country.
The Mongrel Mob hit headlines internationally in March, in the wake of the New Zealand mosques massacre, when members vowed to “come together” with rival gangs for the community in Christchurch, by standing guard during Friday prayers to ensure there was no repeat of the bloodshed.