The Seattle Seawolves signed USA 7s and 15s Eagle and 2x Olympian, Martin Iosefo, through the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 31-year-old center (32 next week) is 6’2″ and 235 lbs.
Martin was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Samoan parents, Sifoua and Lolesio, and is the youngest in a family of eight. He lived in Oahu until he was four years old until his father Lolesio took him and his brother Chris back to Vaiusu, Samoa, where his father was from, to instill Samoan culture in his family. His mother was also from Samoa, in Latomalava, went back to Samoa when he was two.
His father played rugby with his brothers as a way of staying connected and took Martin and his brother to practices. Martin remained in Samoa until it was time to attend high school and then moved back to Hawaii, staying with an aunt and uncle from his father’s side along with his brother Chris, while his parents remained in Samoa. He attended Leilehua High School, playing soccer, basketball, and football, graduating in 2008.
Martin reflected on the impact of his Samoan heritage in a 2021 interview with Dan Ninham of NSNS Sports, an online resource for Native American Sports News, indicating that “I am grateful and proud of my Samoan culture. Out culture’s identity is ultimately bounded by fa’aloalo, meaning respect, and alofa, meaning love. It is a crucial element that started early in life with family members and then in social relations.”
He has continued to share his cultural identity throughout his life with teammates, friends, and anyone else he meets, and takes the time to know him.
Martin attended the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana on a football scholarship, and then transferred to the University of Montana, where he attended from 2011-2016, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. He tried out for the football team there as a walkon but didn’t make the team. Instead, he played rugby with the university’s club, the. Jesters, and helped the team win the Montana Rugby Union championship in 2014, and was an All-American selection in both rugby 7s and XVs for the 2014-2015 season. He also played club rugby with the Missoula All-Maggots RFC.
While at the University of Montana, he continued to share his cultural identity as a member of the Polynesian Dance Club.
In 2014 he played for the Chicago Lions at the USA Club Sevens Nationals and with the Collegiate All-Americans at the RugbyTown Sevens. This led to his selection to the USA Men’s National Sevens Team, where he made his debut on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at Dubai that Fall. He also played in the USA Club Sevens Nationals with the Denver Barbarians in 2015.
His impressive seven-year career in the World Series continued through his retirement from his USA Sevens residency in December 2021. He appeared in 50 tournaments for the USA, earned three MVP Dream Team tournament selections, played in the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, helped the US earn its best-ever finish in second place on the 2019 World Sevens Series circuit, and competed for Team USA in the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics, in Rio and Tokyo, respectively.
In 2015 he helped the USA win the NACRA Sevens Olympic Qualifier over Canada in North Carolina and helped the team with Bronze at the 2015 Pan American Games. After beginning the 2014-2015 Sevens circuit, he was unavailable for the Hong Kong and Tokyo stops, before rejoining the team for London, where the team won its first Gold medal in 2015. The team would go on to win Gold again in Las Vegas in 2018, the first time on United States soil, and won again in 2019 at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas.
The 2018-2019 season was a special one for the team, the team won 10 Silver medals, 1 Gold, and were ranked number one in the world going into the final tournament in Paris, a loss to Fiji in the semifinals, moved their final ranking to #2, which is quite an accomplishment.
Martin played with the USA Select XV in the Americas Pacific Challenge in 2016, starting three times. he made his Senior National Team debut against Romania at Bucharest on 16, November 2016. Eagle #500 would play 9 times to the USA, starting 8, and scoring 2 tries. He played in 3 matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup with the last of his tests against Argentina at Kumagaya, Japan on October 9.
Martin has extensive coaching experience and is a USA Rugby Level 300 Coach. He was a USA Youth Camp Coach from 2015-2017, a mentor for Hope Sports, coached Girls Rugby 2018-2019, was a rugby coach at Cathedral Catholic High school 2019-2020, and a player coach for the inaugural Premier Rugby Sevens Loggerheads on 9 October 2021.
Martin Iosefo & Matai Leuta Ends USA Sevens Residency, Dec. 2021
Head Coach Mike Friday said: “I can’t express our gratitude to both Marty and Matai for all they have done over the years to support this program and leave a legacy for the next generation.
“They have been mainstays in everything we’ve done these last seven years and are very much part of the heartbeat of The Pioneers in repositioning the USA in the landscape of sevens. These two have inspired numerous young Americans to play this game and chase their Olympic dreams.
“Marty and Matai are fantastic players and have represented their country with passion and commitment on the pitch. But, more than that, these two are good men who support their teammates in good and bad times and possess the character traits of true leaders.
“I am lucky to have been able to run with them and I have no doubt they will make huge impacts in their next adventures. I’ll be following their next chapters closely and we will always be there if they need us.”
Martin Iosefo said: “I am grateful to have been part of the USA Sevens residency program. A once in a lifetime opportunity to train full-time as a national team athlete and compete regularly in the World Series, World Cup, and the Olympics. It’s been a great honor to represent my country, the jersey, family, and friends. I hope to inspire the next generation of future Olympians and ruggers to pursue their dreams.
“My next chapter is mostly focused on being with family and raising our firstborn son. In rugby, I’ll be making a push for 15s. I’m looking forward to this transition in hopes of another World Cup in 2023.”
Martin Iosefo Joins Seattle Seawolves & Hobbies
Martin has joined the Seattle Seawolves through the 2023 season. He will likely play inside and outside center and “is known globally for his electric footwork, tackle consistency, ability to finish, and physicality on both sides of the ball.”
You can view Iosefo’s highlights here.
Hobbies include hiking, camping, snowboarding, road trips, traveling, going to the beach, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.
Seattle Seawolves Comments
“As a Club, we are thrilled to announce the two-year signing of Martin; he’s a great team man who brings a wealth of international experience from both the USA National 15s and 7s programs,” said Seawolves director of rugby and head coach Allen Clarke. “Renowned for his physical presence and athleticism as well as his aggressive defense and try-scoring, he adds real quality to our outside backs. We’re delighted to welcome Martin and his wife, Danielle, to the Seawolves family.”
“I am looking forward to joining the two-time back-to-back MLR champions and am excited to contribute to the hunt for the next championship Shield,” said Iosefo. “I chose Seawolves to not only be close to home but most importantly the family-oriented environment and culture to win.”