Kupuna Life: Fred “Pops” Pereira


Papa Fred Pereira has been coaching fighters and boxers for decades in Waianae. 

“Don’t put your head down when you throw the right, keep your eye on the target, don’t forget your body  keep going,” said Fred Pops, or Papa Fred Pereira to a fighter. 

He’s volunteered at the ​​​​​​Waianae District Park gym since it opened 47 years ago, in 1972.

And his coaching has paid off.

18-year-old Asa Stevens, last year’s youth world champ, just this month in Tennessee, became National Golden Gloves Champ.

And there’s 19-year old Dalis Kaleiopu who qualified for Olympic trials, as number two in the nation in his weight class. He’s been training here since the 6th grade.

But it’s not just the physical training. It’s the life lessons and the relationships formed that meant the most. 

“Big-hearted smart loving person takes in anybody,” said Dalis Kaleiopu said about Pops. “Took me out from being in the streets and all and look where I’m at now, at the top.”

“I honestly just wanted to come here to learn and to become a better fighter–represent where I came from,” said 16-year-old boxer Precious Peroff. “Even though I was here for like couple weeks I would say he’s the best coach. [Pop’s] really humble. He’s very outgoing and he pushes all of us to do good and even henry too, his helper they’re both good, they’re amazing.”

Pops loves working with kids, and he starts with the ones who get into a bit of trouble. 

“I went and I caught some of the kids and I said ‘look, when you’re doing something stupid here, come on down I can give you guys something to do and all that you know,” said Pops. “The number one thing before they start to train, I talk to the parents and I talk to the kids. I say ‘look, I’m gonna teach you how to fight and the thing that I want from you is after I teach you, you do not use any of this in school.”

Pops started boxing at age seven. He even boxed while in the Army stationed in Japan. 

Aside from being the 1957 Army Japan Champion, he’s not the only boxer in the family. 

The other trophies on the shelf? They’re from his grandchildren who’ve won.

And he’s trained them all.

It was in the 60’s when children who saw his trophies asked him to train them.

And he did, in his garage. Then at Wai’anae high and a couple other places.

“I really believe this, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have this gym. I just love this, you know,” Pops said. “I’m 85-years-old now. I think the lord really loves me because 85 and I feel great. I figure ok, I’m not gonna, maybe I’m doing something that he likes, and he’s taking good care of me.”

His legacy will last forever, in those he trains.

Also this month in Tennessee, to his surprise, Pops was inducted in the Golden Gloves of America Coach’s Hall of Fame.

KHON2 asked Pops how he felt about being in the Hall of Fame and he said, “I was so happy that I couldn’t believe that it was happening to me. I had a hard time breathing too.”

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