A chance meeting 27 years ago turned into mutual friendship for nationally ranked fighter Rod Graddon and Kapa‘a’s Luis Soltren.
The two met in 1979 at the North Shore Boxing Club, while Graddon and his wife, Meg, were visiting the island.
Graddon, who has been helping Kamole Jiu-Jitsu with stand-up training throughout the years, heard about the North Shore club and wanted to work out.
“I knew there was something special about this guy when he walked in. He was about 39 and very confident,” said Soltren, who was then 27.
Soltren said he liked Graddon’s humble attitude and his confidence.
“Confidence in one’s self is so very important, not only in sports, but in life, too. To believe in one’s ability, that is what I have always tried to develop in the fighters that I have trained,” Soltren said.
After a few years, Soltren and Graddon found themselves boxing each other, while fostering a lasting friendship.
“We spent a lot of time together every other year when he and his wife visited Kaua‘i,” Soltren said.
“Graddon is a very smart fighter. You don’t become No. 3 in the nation, especially in his time, if you’re not good,” Soltren said. “Graddon was a trainer for many years, involved with fighters that went on to Olympic trials. He also trained Les Fabri, who was the No. 1 fighter in 1984.”
Soltren, who is a contractor by day and a Kamole Jiu-Jitsu trainer by night, pulled Graddon out of retirement to assist the team with stand-up techniques.
“I feel Kamole has fighters that can go all the way to world titles. Under the teaching of Carl Ragasa, their grappling is second to none and they continue to get better,” Soltren said.
“Kaua‘i has many great fighters not just from Kamole but other teams, Quicksilva, Longman, K.T.I., and many others. We should support sports on Kaua‘i no matter what kind of sport it may be; it will only benefit the many boys and girls of Kaua‘i and give them the confidence they need to succeed.”
For more information on Kamole Jiu-Jitsu, call Kaleo Lopez at 635-5921.