LIHUE — Shaelin Manibog, a Kauai High School sophomore, likes the intense practices at the Kauai Police Activities League.
Manibog is among the roster of KPAL boxers scheduled to enter the ring Friday when KPAL, in cooperation with the Kukui Grove Center, will sound the bell on its boxing showcase in the Kukui Grove Exhibition Area near Deja Vu Surf Hawaii from 5 p.m.
“This is going to be my first showcase,” Manibog said. “I’m excited, but nervous at the same time.”
Kauai Police Dept. Lt. Mark Ozaki said there will be bouts featuring Kauai’s female boxers on the card, which will include 14 or 15 bouts with boxers from 6 years old through 18 years old.
Jesse Cardenes, another Kauai High School sophomore, said he fought in the last showcase presented to a near-capacity audience earlier this year.
“I’m not scheduled for this one,” Cardenes, who has been boxing since he was in the third grade, said. “They can’t find an opponent for me in my class. But I did fight in the last showcase. It was good fun. The showcase shows Kauai how boxing is — it’s not so bad.”
Ozaki was supervising a gym filled with young boxers getting in sparring practice ahead of the boxing showcase at the old KPD weight facility sitting aside Vidinha Stadium, the crowd of boxers overflowing the small building and rubber-necking the soccer activity taking place across the road at the North Vidinha fields.
“I see people talking story,” Ozaki’s voice carried above the crowded facility of boxers and their parents as he refereed a bout. “You need to be doing something. Shadow boxing, practice, do something!”
Paige Sakai is a student from Kapaa, silently wrapping her hands in preparation for the ring.
“I’ve been coming for about a year,” Sakai said. “I fought in the last showcase. It was good, but I’m nervous for Friday’s event. But I’m kind of excited, too.”
She might be facing Rhea Gambeng, a Kauai High School 10th grader.
“This is my first time in a showcase,” Gambeng said. “I’m very nervous. I’m scheduled to face two opponents in a Round Robin format. I think I’m fine. I just need to work on aiming for the face and my punching.”
Gambeng said she’s been boxing for about five months, now.
“My friend who is boxing invited me to come watch,” Gambeng said. “I decided I would try it, and I enjoyed it. I keep coming back. I guess I like practice because it’s very hard.”