The Seattle Seawolves will have USA 7s and 15s Eagle and 2x Olympian, Martin Iosefo, back for the second year of his contract for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 32-year-old center (33 in January) is 6’1″ and 235 lbs.
Martin played 1273 minutes in 17 starts and scored 7 tries for the Seawolves in 2022. He was a dynamic scoring threat and helped the team reach the MLR Shield Final. Following the season he was a player-coach in the Premier Rugby Sevens.
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 when 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, and 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. Our 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 walk-on 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 in 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, and 1 Gold, and was 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 in Bucharest on 16, November 2016. Eagle #500 would play 11 times for the USA. 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 Girl’s Rugby from 2018-2019, was a rugby coach at Cathedral Catholic High school from 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 is 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 Hobbies
Hobbies include hiking, camping, snowboarding, road trips, traveling, going to the beach, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.