Hawaii boxers prepare for Junior National Olympics

By Jason Tang - bio | email

EWA BEACH (KHNL) - The Beijing Olympic games opens competition in less than two months, but there's a different kind of Olympics getting ready to go next week.

It's the Junior National Olympics for boxing that starts up on the mainland and though the competition will have no effect on who makes it to the Beijing games this year, there's still a lot riding on this tournament for a group of island boxers.

Punching. Punching. And more punching. For a group of local boxers, it's the sacrifice they willingly make to represent Hawaii at a national level.

"For the kids under 17 years old, this is the most important national tournament for them, it's how they get ranked 1-10 and this is the only tournament that ranks the boxers for USA boxing," said Bruce Kawano, USA Boxing Hawaii Junior Olympic chairman.

On Saturday, ten Hawaii boxers from Oahu, Maui and the Big Island leave for the National Junior Olympics in Michigan. For some it will be their first national competition.

"It's a big thing, and I've trained hard for this and it's just a great pleasure to go represent Hawaii and to fight for Hawaii," said boxer Joshua McShane.

Not everyone is green though. Helena Delacruz-Lopes won a bronze medal last year, which only left her craving more hardware.

"It's my second time, so hopefully it will be better, hopefully I get to the top and win the gold," said Delacruz-Lopes.

Their results from the tournament won't help them make this year's Olympic games, but it can propel them forward for the next summer Olympics.

Out of this year's team going to Beijing, 9 out of 11 of them came through the National Junior Olympics.

"This is the pipeline, for the next Olympics in London,"

"That would be cool coming from Hawaii and going out there, not much people can't that chance."

Making the Olympic team isn't the only perk for our athletes.

Depending on their performances, they can also earn full ride boxing scholarships to the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette, Michigan.

The tournament begins next week.