HILO, Big Island (KHNL) - Mixed martial arts is an increasingly popular sport and there's no denying one name comes to the mind of MMA fans here in Hawaii: BJ Penn.
The Hilo native is the current lightweight champ and he's just about to meet his biggest challenge yet; a Job Swap with KHNL News 8 anchor Stephanie Lum.
The day starts off with intense training. It's the week of BJ Penn's summer kids training camp and he's teaching more than twenty kids from all over the United States how to kick-box, grapple and stay disciplined.
At the same time, fans of the MMA champ constantly walk in seeking a picture or autograph from the Hilo boy who gladly takes the time to meet and greet every single one of them.
Not knowing what to expect, I strap on sparring gloves for what I hope will be a fun work-out session.
"We're not taking it easy on you today! Get ready!" shouts Penn.
He was right. In less than five minutes, I am drenched in sweat, hitting a punching bag, doing push-ups, bear crawls, mini-sprints and kicks. Then, came the toughest part; freeing myself from a rear naked choke hold by none other than "The Prodigy" himself.
"Don't tap out! Don't give up!" Penn yells as I feel his arms squeezing my neck tighter and tighter.
My head tells me otherwise. I tap out.
Mixed martial arts is a tough sport that requires a tremendous amount of discipline. Penn says while physical fitness is very important, it's how mentally strong you are in the ring that matters most.