Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Dennis Asuncion inducted into Big Island Sports Hall of Fame

      Dennis Ernest Asuncion was born in Hilo in 1948 and grew up in the sugar plantations at camp Amauulu.

During his early amateur boxing career Asuncion became the Amateur Boxing Associations 112 pound division champion and the following year captured the 112 lb open division.

Graduating from Hilo High in 1966 Asuncion resumed his boxing while in the military and became the Hawaii State Amateur Athletic Union Champion in 1969.

Following his military service Asuncion returned to the Big Island and resumed boxing for the late Jack Matsui.  In 1970 he became the 119 lb Hawaii State AAU Champion and later won the Hawaii State Golden Gloves Championship.

His list of amateur achievements in the local boxing scene is endless as he won several titles.

From 1972 to ’75 he coached the Wanderers Athletic Club and from 1977 to 1995 he was a boxing official for the Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Junior Boxing Program and for the Hawaii Police Activities League Amateur Boxing Program.

Asuncion was a three time State of Hawaii AAU champion, a two time State of Hawaii Golden Gloves Champion, a two time BIABA Invitational Tournament Champion, and a US Army Pacific Area Champion.

Asuncion was selected in 1971 as the Big Island Athlete of the Year.  (Asuncion passed away on March 2, 2011)

For his numerous awards in amateur boxing and for his years of community service to the sport of boxing the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame has selected his, along with six others, to be inducted to the 2011 War of Fame.

The BISHF will have a ceremony at the Wall of Fame at the Prince Kuhio Mall on August 21 at 10 am.

“We will introduce the seven and display their photos to the wall,” Chairman Derek Shigematsu said.  “We are hoping past inductees and the general public will come out to support the newly inducted honorees.”

Following the Wall dedication the ceremony will move to a luncheon at the Nani Mau Gardens at noon were a formal ceremony will take place.

For those interested in attending the luncheon the cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.  Seating is limited.

Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling Ellsworth Fontes at 935-5519.

The late Jack Matsui was the founder of the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame.

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July 31, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jerry Chang supporting our Vets on Thursday at 5K run/walk

Jerry Chang

In just a few days we’ll be celebrating my favorite holiday, Veteran’s Day, as the Big Dog will be hosting a 5K run/walk starting in the parking area of Coconut Island in Hilo.

Veteran’s Day is a chance for the community to say thank you to the many men and women who have served their country.

One such patriot is Jerry Chang who joined the Army in November 1967 and was a Special Forces Medic with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) before being honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 1970.

“I got out of the Army on a Friday and the very next Monday started civilian work as a Surgeon’s Assistant at the North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill,” Chang said.  “Chapel Hill is a pure college town and the home of the Tar Heels.  The entire community and economy is dependent on the College.”

Chang was born and raised in Hilo, growing up in Pahala for the first six years of his life where he was temporarily ‘hanaied’ by his Aunt and Uncle Quitoriano.

“My first organized sport was biddy boxing at the age of 10 under Coach Jack Matsui, who also was my baseball and basketball coach,” Chang said.

Through his involvement in youth sports Chang traveled to Los Angeles with an all-star baseball team at age 12 and his interest in sports blossomed as a result.

“While at Hilo Intermediate School I was on the long distance track team where I held the record for the 440 yards and at Hilo High I was on the track team as a hurdler and ran the 440,” Chang said.

Chang continued with his boxing under his uncle, John Chang, who ran the Wanderers Athletic Club.

“I also played football for Hilo High as a quarterback.  I tried boxing and football at the same time, but had to decide on one or the other because it was during the same season.  I chose football, but still loved the sport of boxing,” he said.

After high school Chang attended Mauna Olu Junior College on Maui and became the co-captain on the basketball team that played in the local senior league.

Following his military service Chang made his way back home and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo where he became involved with student government and lobbied at the Legislature for student housing and funding for programs and facilities.

“My active involvement in student affairs was what got me interested in politics.  I felt then and still do now that Hilo is a perfect College town, just like Chapel Hill,” he said.

Shortly thereafter Chang found himself working a session at the State Legislature for then Representative Andy Levin.

“I decided to run for Andy’s seat when he decided to run for the State Senate.  Andy was a good role model and I admired his work ethics, communication skills, his healthy eating habits as well as his long distance running prowess,” Chang said.

The inspiration that Chang got from Levin led him to become a long distance runner and accomplish the mighty task of completing seven marathons (distances of 26.2 miles) with a personal best time of 3 hours and 15 minutes.

“After a motorcycle accident that left me with two less toes and a skiing accident that has caused problems with my knees, I now run just because I love it,” he said.

Chang will continue to run for fitness and to keep his weight down regardless of how slow he might be. 

“During the legislative session I run in the mornings, when I don’t have to chair a hearing, and when at home in Hilo I take my dog ‘Kimo’ for a run around my neighborhood several times a week,” he said.

Chang will make time for regular physical exercise either before the day starts or in the evenings when the sun starts going down.

Being recently diagnosed with Gall stones, Chang has begun watching his intake of oily foods and eats lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Having served 22 years in the State House, Chang is currently the Chairman of the Higher Education Committee which provides him the opportunity to support the growth of UH Hilo.

“I find legislative work exciting and quite demanding during the session because of the many deadlines, constituent concerns, and the controversial issues.  Like life itself the legislature is all about relationships, communication and persistence,” he said.

Chang has continued to give back to the community through his volunteer involvement in Toys for Tots Motorcycle campaigning, the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame, and the Big Island amateur Boxing Association which is currently being revived.

“One of the philosophies that helped me in my career is to be the best that I can be and to surround myself with people who believe in me, more than I do.  It is because of people who believed in me that got me where I am today and I appreciate that much needed support that is required to do what we do,” he said.

Coming up on Thursday, November 11, Chang will be out to support the Big Dog’s Veteran’s Day 5K run or walk starting at 7:30 am from the entrance of Coconut Island.  The entry fee is a canned good to be donated to the Hawaii Island Food Basket.

Post race refreshments will be provided by Jerry Chang and his friends.

“As a veteran I know the sacrifices and service of our servicemen and women and my participating in the 5K run is the least I can do to show my appreciation,” Chang said.

For more information on the Veteran’s Day 5K run/walk call 969-7400. And someday should you see a proud Vietnam Vet come strolling through Bayfront remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at wiakeabigdog@aol.com

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments