The Keitani Graham Memorial Foundation was established in early 2013 after the sudden and tragic passing of Keitani Graham on December 7, 2012 in Chuuk at the age of 32. Keitani was and continues to be a Micronesian hero, someone who demonstrated in thought and deed what was possible to countless young islanders. As the first Olympic wrestler from the Federated States of Micronesia, Keitani participated in the 2012 Olympiad in London as a Greco-Roman wrestler at 84 Kg.
Keitani was the Executive Director of our parent organization, SHIP-HOOPs, and a major catalyst for educational, environmental, and athletic endeavors not only in Chuuk State, but across the Pacific and throughout the world community of Olympic athletes. At the age of 32, Keitani achieved what many would aspire to over a lifetime.
His professional and personal accomplishments served as an example to young people what is possible with hard work, commitment, and an unwavering desire to succeed.
Keitani was commonly described as intelligent, humble and caring. His elementary education was through home schooling, then off to Xavier High School, a famous Micronesian high school. He continued his high school education at prestigious Punahou School in Honolulu, and then received his BA Degree from College of the Holy Cross. Keitani could have sought a life of comfort and affluence; however, he chose to return to his matriarchal home of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, living a modest, but rewarding life as he sought to inspire and create opportunity for those where options and aspirations are too frequently viewed as limited.
The Keitani Graham Memorial Foundation is a living legacy to this inspiring Olympic athlete, perpetuating healthy living and athletics through community events, education, and scholarships. Donations to the foundation are encouraged to support this important work and the living legacy of this remarkable young man. Please see the How Can I Help? page of our website to consider a donation.
Articles About Keitani
[wpspoiler name=”FILA Article About Keitani Graham” closebtn=”Close Article”]FILA Article About Keitani Graham — [PDF File] [/wpspoiler]
[wpspoiler name=”FSM Olympian passes on a legacy of empowerment for FSM youth” closebtn=”Close Article”]The Keitani Graham Memorial Foundation – KASELEHLIE PRESS – FSM Olympian passes on a legacy of empowerment for FSM youth — [PDF File] [/wpspoiler]
[wpspoiler name=”Olympian was ‘humble … gifted’ – Honolulu Star Advertiser” closebtn=”Close Article”]
Olympian was ‘humble … gifted’
DECEMBER 8,2012 By Dave Reardon HONOLULU STAR ADVERTISER
Stuart Sutton paid his friend, Keitani Graham, the ultimate compliment. “He’s the kind of guy that if you had a daughter he’d be the perfect guy to marry her,” he said. “He’s humble, level-headed and gifted.” Sutton was among the many still in disbelief Friday that the Olympic wrestler and community leader from Chuuk, Micronesia, who was born and educated in Hawaii, had died at age 32. The cause of death was still unconfirmed in Hawaii, but several people have said they were told Graham died of a heart attack. “He never even took over-the-counter drugs, never took supplements,” Sutton said. “You look at someone like that, great shape, squeaky clean, no supplements, no health problems I was aware of, and you wonder … Why?” Graham and Sutton graduated from Punahou in 1998. Graham lived with Sutton and former USA national team wrestler Jake Clark from June 2011 to July 2012 as Graham trained for the London Olympics. Graham trained at times with MMA champion B.J. Penn, and was sometimes mistaken for him, Sutton said. He competed in Greco-Roman wrestling, representing the Federated States of Micronesia. Graham lost in a 185-pound qualifying match to Charles Edward Betts of the United States. After the Olympics he recounted his experiences with students at Farrington High School, which has a large number of students from Micronesia. Graham was born in Kealakekua on the Big Island and is an alumnus of Punahou School and Holy Cross College, where he was a decathlete. “He graduated from (Xavier High School) in Chuuk at age 15 and then came to Punahou,” Sutton said. “He did 650 on the verbal SAT despite English being his second language.” After graduation from Holy Cross, he taught at Central Intermediate School on Oahu in 2003. Graham was executive director of Ship/Hoops, a nonprofit organization in Chuuk that created educational and sports opportunities and other services for youth. Graham was also a key figure in a group building a school in Chuuk. “I think improving things at home will also help improve things (in Hawaii) for Chuukese,” Graham said in a Star-Advertiser interview during the Olympics.[/wpspoiler]
[wpspoiler name=”FSM wrestler, sports icon laid to rest ” closebtn=”Close Article”]
FSM wrestler, sports icon laid to rest
DECEMBER 12, 2012 By Mike Nauta Jr.
Olympic wrestler Keitani Graham was an inspiration to athletes both young and old.
In the world of sports, athletes, coaches and teams go through a roller coaster ride of ups and downs as they fight their way to achieving lifelong dreams and goals. On the other side of the spectrum, they have family, friends and fans that go through almost the same feeling while supporting in every way possible. Yesterday, the island of Chuuk was in a state of mourning as they lay to rest one of their biggest sports icons –Olympic wrestler Keitani Graham.The 32-year old Graham passed away in his sleep in the early morning hours last Friday at his home in Chuuk. Graham was considered by many as a friend, hero, teammate, coach, role model, advocate, student, teacher, and champion. More importantly, Graham was an inspiration to athletes both young and old.Graham grew up in Chuuk, attended Xavier High School and then moved to Honolulu where he graduated from Punahou High School in 1998. He continued his education and graduated from Holy Cross in 2003. According to a news release, Graham is a sports legend and hero to many in Micronesia, having competed in basketball as well as track and field throughout the region.After graduating from Holy Cross, the FSM native returned to Chuuk and resumed his life in the islands which included teaching, sports, and serving as a role model to the youths of Micronesia. In sports he came to focus on wrestling and in teaching he became the executive director of SHIP/HOOPS, a non-profit corporation that used education, literacy activities and modern sports programs to teach and empower youths in Micronesia.Graham worked very hard to qualify and compete in the London Olympics in 2012. His road to London saw him traveling and competing in every continental wrestling championship from 2007 to 2012. The State of Chuuk, the FSM, and the whole region of Micronesia mourns the loss of a young man who surely has been a leader in the community.[/wpspoiler]
[wpspoiler name=”Keitani and the Track & Field Day” closebtn=”Close Article”]
Highlights from the First Annual Keitani Graham Interscholastic Track and Field Day 2013
APRIL 27, 2013 By Gabe Rossi Chairman, Interscholastic Sports Commission (ISC) | Weno, Chuuk. FSM.
Track and field day 2013 has come and gone. And yet this was everything but ordinary. Sure there were the major events: the one-mile relay, marathon, sixty-meter and one-hundred meter races. Sure the competition was fierce and the teams were high-spirited. And of course some athletes were highly decorated while others were disqualified. But something much greater happened at this track and field day.
This past March the Interscholastic Sports Commission (ISC) had a preparatory meeting for track and field day. In the meeting the representatives from each school voted to change the name of the event. Chuuk’s favorite athletic competition was renamed to honor the late local Olympic hero, Keitani Graham. The Annual Keitani Graham Interscholastic Track and Field Day was born.
As a volunteer from the United States I cannot possibly convey the importance the late Keitani Graham has had on the youth in Micronesia, especially Chuuk and his village, Penia. Throughout his life he has inspired the youth to compete hard, demonstrate good sportsmanship and bask in the natural high that good competition offers. Through competition the non-profit organization Keitani and his father, Clark, started, SHIP/HOOPS (Society for Historic Investigation and Preservation/Helping Ourselves: Outreach Programs in Sports), they hoped to not only retain cultural values but also build a drug free and violence free community through honest, fair competition. As an Olympian, Keitani embodied these principles and dedicated his life’s work to building them from the ground up in Chuuk. He started a school in Penia, Akoyikoyi school in which SHIP/HOOPS is continuously investing in the youth through education and sports programs.
This year’s track and field day sought to keep alive Keitani’s legacy and life’s work. The Olympic banner Keitani brought back from competing in the 2012 London games, and carried by the Akoyikoyi first graders during the opening ceremonies at track and field day says it all: “Inspire a Generation.” Keitani inspired the youth of Chuuk when a week after returning from London he went to Anderson Field and, machete in hand, with his Penia relatives, he humbly cut the grass so the Penia/Peniasene youth could have a track and field day. Keitani inspired the youth by remaining drug free. Keitani inspired the youth by dedicating his life to others rather than himself.
And it all started at track and field day.
During the opening ceremonies, Clark Graham spoke to the athletes about Anderson Field, the place Keitani trained and first formally competed against other athletes from 1991-1995. Clark later recounted Keitani’s last race in Keitani’s favorite event, the sixteen-hundred meter (eight lap) race, highlighting how, as a fifteen year-old senior Keitani came from behind to out pace the leader on the final straight away.
The fact that Keitani’s favorite event was the eight lap, rather than the one-hundred meter, speaks volumes about the type of competitor he was. The short sprints are always the most anticipated and most cheered for races throughout the week. And, as a result, the most glory-filled. Keitani did not seek glory. Rather the eight-lap race requires dedication to a work out regimen, discipline and sacrifice. I am not saying the other races don’t need those things, but the grueling nature of running eight laps under the Micronesian sun as fast as one can separates the true competitors from the posers. Keitani was not a poser.
This year Joab Kanai from Palau, a fellow Xavierite, Keitani’s alma mater, honored Keitani by coming from behind on the last lap to win the eight lap. As most are probably aware, Keitani graduated from Xavier, went to high school in Hawaii before going to the College of the Holy Cross as a decathlete. Not only did Mr. Kanai honor Keitani by winning the eight lap, but Joab is also the most likely candidate to become the next decathlete: his one-mile relay team won, he placed seventh overall in the marathon, he came in third in the one-hundred meter finals, he won the long-jump and he anchored many of the relays.
This year’s competition was fierce and a few Micronesian youth stood out among the rest. SJ from Chuuk High won the one-hundred meter dash and has been nominated to represent the FSM in Tahiti this summer. A young lady from Southern Nomonias Fefan, Merizen, won the marathon, anchored the winning one-mile relay team, placed second in both the sixty and one-hundred meter dashes, and anchored many of Fefan’s relay teams. Miraleen Nittu, a freshman girl at Xavier High School, won the sixty and one-hundred meter dashes. And Brenden Yamase, a junior at Xavier, was nominated to represent the FSM sixteen and seventeen year-olds this summer in the Ukraine for the one-hundred meter dash.
At the end of every competition there can only be one winner and here is the final score for the event. SDA and Pentecostal High school teamed up and came in seventh place with five points; Southern Nomonias Tonowas came in sixth with twenty-five points; Berea Christian School placed fifth with forty-one points; Saramen Chuuk Academy scored one hundred eighteen points while securing fourth place; Chuuk High School placed third with one hundred seventy-nine points; Southern Nomonias Fefan came in second place with two hundred four points; and Xavier High School won the First Annual Keitani Graham Interscholastic Track and Field Day with three hundred thirty-two points.
There were many highlights throughout this past week, but what has been far more important than all of the events is how Keitani’s legacy not only lives on in the young athletes throughout Micronesia, but how his legacy thrives in them and continues to inspire other potential athletes. The athletes trained, sacrificed and dedicated themselves to a goal by not only conditioning their bodies for competition, but, more importantly, demonstrating their spirit and willingness to follow in Keitani’s footsteps by competing fairly and courageously.