KHON2’s Rob DeMello went to Technical Strength and Conditioning to talk to UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway earlier today. But when he got there, Holloway was not the only notable athlete from the islands in the house.
Bellator MMA flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane was also getting reps in under head trainer Darin Yap. So were pro surfers Alessa Quizon and Kekoa Cazimero and minor league baseball player Tanner Nishioka.
“We’re all champs in our own ways in what we do in our respective sports,” Holloway said. “It’s just crazy to see.”
It is crazy, and not just because so many successful, high-level athletes in so many sports can be found under one roof. They’re also all young, at a time when conventional wisdom says that talented kama’aina are better off on the mainland.
“Before everything was like, ‘you gotta move, you can’t do it from Hawaii, you can’t be Hawaii-based and do this.’ Now look at it, we got it, guys! We’re here.
“A lot of us don’t get to go off the island and enjoy and see these things that we get to see, but we want to show them that you can [be successful], and it’s possible.”
This is not to say that Holloway — or Macfarlane, Quizon, Cazimero or Nishioka — is telling Hawaii’s youth to try and be like them. On the contrary, they’re breaking down barriers for the next generation to carve out their own lanes.
“I always tell the kids [who say] ‘I want to be the next Max Holloway, Alessa Quizon, John John Florence, Maki Pitolo, Ilima [Macfarlane]’ — don’t! We already got all of us. Go be the next you. Go be the next star. Keep holding the Hawaiian flag high. Keep riding this wave and go do it. You can do it, you just gotta believe in yourself.”
Tune in to KHON2 tonight at 6:00 for more news from Max Holloway.