Fight night in Waimea: Ramos leads youth charge at Kona Boxing Club event
By J.R. De Groote West Hawaii Today Published March 24, 2017 – 1:41am
KAILUA-KONA — At first glance, soft-spoken 11-year-old Ariana Ramos might not look like she’d have a puncher’s chance in the ring.
Looks can be deceiving.
“She’s a beast,” Sonny Westbrook, her trainer, said. “Some of the best hands I have seen and she will fight anyone you put in front of her.”
Westbrook has been training fighters out of his gym at Old Kona Airport Park for more than two decades, so that’s high praise for Ramos. But his actions speak even louder than his words.
Westbrook has seen so much promise from his young pupil he decided to have Ramos be the semi-main event at the Kona Boxing Club bouts at Thelma Parker Gym in Waimea on Saturday. It’s something, the veteran boxer said, that is unheard of.
“She’s making history,” Westbrook said. “It’s important not only for her, but for all the young girls in the community to see that something like this is possible if they work hard. Male or female, you can do anything you want.”
While Ramos admits she has felt a bit of nervousness leading up to the fight, she said she can’t wait to get in the ring to meet her opponent, Karlee Apao, of Hilo.
“It’s just about having fun,” said Ramos, a Kealakehe Middle School student. “I really like the sport and hope I can be an example for other kids.”
In the main event, Big Island boxer Kaeo Meyers will take on Oahu’s Alexander Hill. Both have multiple belts to their name and have experience in MMA. But Westbrook said Saturday’s fight is all about one thing: Who has the better hands.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” Meyers said. “Expect fireworks.”
The event is the second held by Kona Boxing Club in the past year, with the club also hosting a kickboxing event back in August. While the skill sets are different, the prominence of youth on the card is the same. The poster for the event features a slew of young faces from the community.
One of those faces is 10-year-old Josh Wong.
“Boxing is something that can be really interactive,” Wong said, wiping the sweat from his brow. “It’s a good way to get your anger out too.”
His favorite part?
“I really like punching,” Wong said.
In his keiki boxing days, Meyers trained with Westbrook. He still does. Taking a look around the packed Kona Boxing Club, littered with tiny fighters filled with big aspirations, he has embraced his spot as a role model.
“I remember seeing those older guys and wanting to be in their shoes,” Meyers said. “Now I’m there, and hopefully some of these kids can be one day in the future too.”
The doors open at 5 p.m. on Saturday, with the first fight starting at 6:30 p.m. Westbrook is still finalizing the card, but said he expects no less than 10 fights.
As for future boxing endeavors, Westbrook said he’s planning on holding an event on the tarmac at Old Airport, under the stars. For more information, find Kona Boxing Club on Facebook.