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Hall inductees' secret of success: 'Gotta have heart'


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POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

Boxing coach Albert “;Quick”; Silva of Waipahu allows he can spot almost instantly a fighter with the potential to become a champion.

The magic ingredient: “;heart.”;

Says Silva, 91, who has been active in boxing for more than 70 years: “;You have to have the heart, whatever you do. Your heart runs your mind. That's the way I was brought up every day, that you going to take whatever sport you're doing, you have to give it your heart and soul, not go only halfway and that's it.”;

Those sentiments were echoed by two standouts from sharply different disciplines Tuesday night during the annual induction for the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.

What makes a stellar athlete?

“;The fire, the passion,”; said Lynne Boyer, who won two consecutive world surfing championships in 1978 and 1979. “;You have to have a strong desire to win.”;

In separate interviews, Silva, Boyer and Dae Sung Lee, a nine-time U.S. national champion in tae kwon do, agreed that determination counts for more than physical ability when it comes to success in sports.

In a banquet ceremony at the Honolulu Country Club in Salt Lake, Silva, Boyer and Lee joined more than 100 athletes and friends of sports installed in the hall since 1998. (The fourth 2009 inductee, surfer Gerry Lopez, who lives in Bend, Ore., sent along a note expressing his appreciation for the honor.)

Lee is the first inductee from tae kwon do, which has been a full-fledged Olympic sport since only 2000, although it debuted as a demonstration event at the 1988 games in Seoul, its home turf. During last summer's games in Beijing, Lee coached the tae kwon do team for host country China.

Unfortunately, little of the Olympic tae kwon do was broadcast in the United States, Lee says, one reason why most Americans remain in the dark about the sport.

In form and philosophy, tae kwon do is starkly different from boxing. At the same time, the sport of taekwondo - sparring with pads and foam helmet - is considerably different from the martial art.

While the goal of boxing is a knockout, the goal of tae kwon do sparring is to score points by kicking an opponent on his torso padding or helmet. Punches to the pads also are allowed. Any injuries that occur are incidental, not intentional.

Forbidden in the sport of tae kwon do are many of the attacks that are standard in the martial art: punches to the face, chops to the neck, kicks and strikes to the back and below the belt, and knee and elbow jabs. There is also no grabbing in tae kwon do the sport.

Even the martial art of tae kwon do adheres to the notion of minimum force necessary for self-defense. The techniques are never to be used offensively. Except, of course, in sparring.

As he balances these seemingly contradictory elements, Lee emphasizes the same principles as Silva.

In fact, the “;five tenets”; of tae kwon do that Lee drives home to students - courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and an indomitable spirit - could just as suitably be recited at the Waipahu Recreation Center, where Silva makes his young trainees shout, “;I know I can!”;

“;When I look at the athletes, I always check their dedication - their heart - and then their physical ability,”; said Lee. Some athletes are “;naturals,”; fast learners, Lee says, but quick study or not, dedication and perseverance will carry them through the inevitable bad days.