Bringing Back Boxing To Kauai
To say that Mark Ozaki loves the sport of boxing is like saying bees love flowers. The former championship boxer turned coach is now trying to bring “the sweet science” back to the Garden Isle.
It began in February, when the first boxing event in two decades took place on Kaua’i. The tournament was named in honor of Ozaki’s former coach Ken Oki, who passed away two years ago.
“We always had to travel (to fight), always off-island, but never on Kaua’i,” Ozaki says.
Under auspices of the Kaua’i Police Activities League, or KPAL, amateur boxing has grown to several clubs across the Island. They travel every month, sometimes twice a month, to Oahu and the Big Island.
K-PAL amateur boxing also follows strict rules as sanctioned by U.S.A. Boxing. Ozaki says this opportunity might someday lead to a shot at the Olympics. But besides striving to be their best in the ring, Ozaki teaches the athletes about doing good outside the ring as well.
“They’re not allowed to get into trouble,” he says. “They’re being taught to lead respectful lives and be positive members of the community.”
A good example of what KPAL boxing is trying to teach is 22-year-old Chucky Rapozo.
“He used to get into some trouble when he was younger,” Ozaki said. “Then he started to come to the gym and he found direction, and he even started going to church.”
To some, boxing may seem a violent sport, brought straight from the streets to a ring. That’s why Ozaki wants to show people on Kaua’i how safe it is, while offering youths a chance to participate.
“Everybody likes MMA, but people don’t like seeing it with kids,” Ozaki said. “Lots of kids want to compete, but MMA, although it’s safe, may be a little too much for them.”
To Ozaki, this is where boxing punches in, and another event is coming up this Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall. Doors open at 5 p.m., with the first fights beginning at 6.
“We just want to showcase some of the Kaua’i boxers,” he said. “We’ve been traveling a lot and Kaua’i boxers have been really doing well at the state level. This is an opportunity for the people of Kaua’i to actually see them in action.”
Six K-PAL boxers are matched against others from across the state. Local fighters include Rapozo, Jon Anthony Reyes, Micah Fernandez, Domenick Ansagay, Kristopher Alcos and Bryson Murata.
“When I was fighting, the best way I got better was to compete, and that’s what I want for these guys,” Ozaki says. “We want to show people that it’s safe, and educate the community how
safe it is. We’re giving those kids who aren’t interested in football, baseball or other sports an opportunity.”
General admission tickets cost $10 (presale), ringside seats $20. Tickets at the door cost $12. They’re available at Richie’s, the K-PAL Boxing Gym in Lihue, across from the North Vidinha fields, Dynamic Tinting in Puhi, Sweet & Sassy in Eleele, the KPAL Boxing Gym in Hanapepe, Wong’s Restaurant in Hanapepe, Kujo’s in Kalaheo and Scrapa Lifestylez in Hanamaulu.
For more information on the tournament, call Mark Ozaki at 652-6999.