Kamehameha girls judo team champions under Coach Jenna Aina
It takes heart and a lot of courage to be a boxer and it takes a lot more to battle with a life threatening disease such as leukemia.
Such is the case for 9 year old, North Kohala boxer, Iokepa James-Fainga who was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year and is currently undergoing treatment on Oahu.
“Iokepa was complaining of some aches and pains and of felling tired,” Big Island Boxing Club coach Jesus Solis said. “It was during a family vacation to Oahu that he took a turn for the worse and developed a fever that he was taken to Kapiolani Medical Center and they came up with the diagnoses.”
Solis and the Big Island Boxing Club will be hosting a 20 bout card on Saturday, September 11, that will include amateur boxers from throughout the state with proceeds from the event going to the James-Fainga family.
“Part of the family have moved to Oahu to be near Iokepa and the cost for treatment and travel continue to skyrocket, so our boxing event is a way to help the family with some of their expenses,” Solis said.
North Kohala boxers Lindo Matsu IV, Orion Stevens, Jordan Kaneshiro, Jason Tanaka and Tupu Toafili will be featured on the card along with two 25 year old ladies Liesl Rietkerk and Renee Wulzen at 125 pounds. The event takes place at the Hisaoka Gymnasium at the King Kamehameha Park in Kapaau.
“We’re dedicating the boxing event to one of our youngest participants, Iokepa James-Fainga who was recently diagnosed with leukemia,” Solis said.
“We’re calling our boxing show ‘Fighting for Iokepa’, Solis said. “This event is sanctioned by Amateur Boxing of Hawaii and we’re hoping that the community will come out and support us and the James-Fainga family.”
Solis was the Western States Regional Golden Gloves champion in 1969 and went on to become a boxing coach at Chico State University in the early 70’s. In 1992 he founded Al Amanecer Boxing Club in Napa California which he ran for 10 years.
“We had one of the best boxing clubs in Northern California and in 1997 we were chosen best club in the North West,” Solis said. “We worked with the community to provide young people with an outlet for their frustration and had over 150 people participating in the club.”
Solis moved to the Big Island in October 2009 from Washington State where he helped organize a boxing club as a means of keeping young people out of trouble. “I really believe that boxing can build confidence and develop character,” Solis said. “Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve seen firsthand the benefits this sport has to offer.”
Since coming to the Big Island Solis has slowly grown his boxing club to 42 members with 30 young adults and 12 keiki.
“Our youngest is 8 years old and our oldest members are in their mid 30’s,” he said. “This will be our second time hosting a boxing event as we held one this past June.”
Currently the BIBC trains out of a business facility called Kar Tow Kohala in Hawi as they meet on a regular bases.
“The Kohala community was concerned with giving our young people something to do and a place where they could get their frustrations out,” Solis said. “To be a good boxer you need to be dedicated to the sport, work hard and have heart.”
Featured on the boxing card will be fighters from Kauai PAL, Shalom Boxing Academy, along with boxing clubs representing River of Life, Kailua-Kona, Yeshua Outreach Center, Bulls Eye and Ocean View.
Boxers ranging in weight from 69 pounds up to 227 pounds and from ages 9 through 27 will be competing according to Solis.
“We’re still hoping that some other clubs will join us and help make this event a success,” Solis said.
Entry fees for the Sept 11 event are $10 for adults, $5 for keiki 8 through 17 and free for those under the age of eight as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
Those who are unable to attend the boxing show and wish to donate to the James-Fainaga family can contact event organizers Jesus or Megan Solis at 884-5986.
The Big Island Boxing Club operates under the sponsorship of the North Community Resource Center. Donations to the club are accepted and tax-deductible, according to Solis.
Checks should be made out to NKCRC and earmarked for the Big Island Boxing Club. For more information about the boxing club or its Sept 11 show contact Solis via telephone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.