Boxing Returns to Kohala Saturday

By J.R. De Groote West Hawaii Today

KAILUA-KONA — Fight fans rejoice — boxing is back on the west side of the Big Island.

After almost a 20-year hiatus, HI-PAL youth boxing is making a comeback. The first event will be held at the Hisaoka Gymnasium in Kapaau on Feb. 25. The event, for ages 8-17, begins at 6 p.m. and is free to the public.

“They came to me a couple of years ago with the idea to revive the boxing program,” Community Police Officer Kapelieli ‘KJ’ Kauahikaua Jr. said. “The feedback we have been getting so far is great. A lot of people have been asking questions about how they can get involved or get their children involved. Some have just called to say it’s a great thing to bring back boxing.”

More so than most sports, there’s a lot of red tape and boxes that need to be checked before hosting a boxing event, like insurance and getting the proper officials. Kauahikaua said it took some time, but with some help, they pulled it all together.

Kauahikaua has a personal connection to the event. He was a boxer in the HI-PAL program growing up, and fought in the last event in 1997. Coming full-circle, he’s happy to give back.

“It is personal for me,” Kauahikaua said. “I know what boxing gave me growing up and now want these kids to have that too. It gives children a goal to aim for, a purpose for training, and an arena to show what they have learned.”

The program’s resurrection is a big storyline, and Kauahikaua said that’s because it gives the local youth a unique outlet, one that may not be satisfied by the mainstream sports scene.

“Boxing is a contact sport, so there is some negativity surrounding that. But there are so many positives too. Parents and community members I’ve talked to have definitely recognized the positive side of having an event like this around. I expect a good turnout for the kids.

“For us it’s all about having all kinds of positive activities available to provide as many opportunities as we can,” he added. “We want to keep the kids occupied in a positive manner, off the streets. There are more to activities than just basketball or baseball. We are trying to reach out to all kids.”

For those who can’t make it out, the event will be carried on the radio by KNKR 96.1 FM and via live stream at KNKR will start its live broadcast at 5:30pm with a 4 person team.

Anyone interested in being involved in the program, as a coach, athlete, official, or volunteer, may contact Kauahikaua at the North Kohala Police Station at 889-6540 or by email at

For information on all HI-PAL activities in West Hawaii, contact the Kona Community Policing Section at 326-4646 extension 259, or visit the nearest police station.