Sports Hall adds 2
One with seventh-grade education, another a medical school graduate.
Their worlds collided last night when Joseph "Nappy" Napoleon and Dr. Edison Miyawaki were inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame at the Honolulu Country Club.
Napoleon, who completed his 50th consecutive Molokai Hoe last October, was recognized as a pioneer in canoe racing. Miyawaki, a neurologist and part owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, was recognized as a contributor.
With the two new inductees, the HSHOF has 106 members.
"It is such a tremendous honor and I'm so proud to join all of those who have come before me," Miyawaki said. "I'm certainly humbled.
"I would like to thank one special person who passed away four months ago for all of her support."
Sallie Miyawaki died last October. Her dream was to have a youth center built in Nanakuli, something Edison Miyawaki said will be realized through a partnership with the NFL.
"We've broken ground and the Nanakuli Youth Center should be finished later this year," he said. "It will be a sports complex as well as a drug education center and a drug treatment center."
Miyawaki established an NFL training camp for Hawaii athletes in the 1970s, providing scholarships for students. He became the first Japanese-American to purchase an interest in an NFL franchise, the Bengals in 1994, and is also a member of the Pro Bowl Committee.
Napoleon also credited his wife, Anona, with his success, as well as the hundreds of paddlers he's coached or shared a canoe with.
"If not for all the paddlers, I wouldn't be where I am or who I am," he said. "Not bad for a beach boy, eh?
"But all I can tell you is that I love it."
Of all his Molokai Channel crossings -- he's won six -- he said his last was his favorite. His crew included his five sons and three grandsons.
"It was just like being at the house, being in the canoe with all of them," he said. "It's family."
Napoleon, known for his humility, said he began yesterday with a visit to the graves of his parents to leave flowers. He shared one story about being called a legend.
He was steering a canoe last year during the Hamilton Island race in Australia when "I went inside the reef and this other steersman, thinking I had made a mistake, was in too close," Napoleon said. "He yelled over, 'Hey, I thought you were a legend.'
"I knew where I was going. Later, when we were doing a workshop, I told people, 'I'm not a legend. Legends are dead.' My name is Nappy Napoleon and I paddle canoes."