To Summer Tapasa, she was just doing her job when she stopped a robbery at a Best Buy in Central Oahu. Video of Tapasa repeatedly blocking the alleged thief quickly went viral, but due to company policy, she was promptly terminated.
Tapasa says she has no regrets for how the incident unfolded. Since then, her life has changed for the better.
“Everyone pretty much had so much positivity towards what I did and why I did it,” Tapasa told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “There was so much understanding even from the Best Buy managers, which really helped me a lot. Happy that I did it. Not because of the intention, but because at that time when Hawaii was going through the purse snatching and the people going through houses and robbing people, by doing that one simple thing stopping this dude and helping my island get a little bit safer and I’m proud of myself.”
[Latest stories from Hawaii’s Sports Station — KHON2 Sports]
After seeing the video, UFC president Dana White invited Tapasa to UFC 246, where she received VIP treatment and served as security during the weigh-in between Conor McGregor and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
“That weekend was probably one of the best weekends of my life,” Tapasa recalled. “Uncle Dana, from the moment I stepped onto the plane from the moment I stepped off of that plane coming home, it was just super amazing. Everything was perfect.”
Tapasa recently was offered a full-time job at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas, where she works security for the organization’s corporate office.
“It’s been amazing. Everyone, they’re super, super nice,” she said. “I had a couple fighters take pictures of me like Jon Jones. It’s been pretty amazing since I’ve been here.”
Tapasa’s viral moment has garnered plenty of positive attention, including from other celebrities such as Tom Brady and Joe Rogan. But as admirers of her courageous moment have continued to reach out, Tapasa’s most memorable interaction came from a girl that reminded her of herself.
“A mother reached out to me and she said, ‘My daughter is big and she’s built beautifully just like you.’ Every time I think of this message, I always get a little emotional because that was me,” said Tapasa, wiping away tears. “She’s wondering if she can be a great person just like me and it literally brought me to tears because as a kid, that was me asking, ‘How come I’m built like this? How come I’m so big?’ So being a big girl taught me to toughen up, taught me to have thick skin, especially with all the bullying going around, I didn’t stand for it. That wasn’t me, that wasn’t how I am.
“That made me super proud of what I did because if I can reach this little girl and teach her that big is beautiful and it’s not just about your looks, it’s about your heart.”