Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, April 15, 1999

Malia Hosaka, a Honolulu native, is a
former WCW champ.

Unless you’re
a fool, don’t mess
with Malia

Amerasian look gives
wrestler an edge in a hard-
edged world

By Burl Burlingame


IN one of the testosterone-soaked web sites devoted to pro wrestling, Malia Hosaka and other lady wrestlers are in the column marked "ETC." Well, wham bam, thank you Ma'am!

"When people find out what I do, they ask if it's Jell-O or mud wrestling," sighed Hosaka, who's one of the professionals appearing tonight in the "Hawaiian Heat '99 Superstar Wrestling" event.

No Jell-O. No mud. Hosaka is more likely to crack you a good one. She's in the gym five days a week pumping up, and on the road on weekends flinging opponents across the ring. The rest of the time, she's watching tapes of wrestling matches, scoping the moves. Don't mess with Malia.

Not that she figured on this career track at an early age. Her family moved from Honolulu to Florida when she was a kid, and her father and brothers would whoop and holler while watching pro wrestling on Florida TV. "I wanted to watch the Smurfs. I never watched wrestling unless I was dared to," Hosaka admits.

And then they dared her to try it.

The next thing the Hosakas knew, Malia was in a kind of wrestling boot camp. "There are various training camps across the U.S., where you not only learn the basic skills but start to make a name for yourself," said Hosaka. "You basically build on your own personality."

As someone who is half-Japanese -- still unusual on the mainland -- Hosaka decided to capitalize on her "unique Amerasian look." She first appeared in the ring wearing kabuki makeup and kimonos. Today, her name established, the Japanese side is represented by subtle decorative motifs, such as a black-leather rising-sun on a black-velvet jacket.

"Tasteful and understated," said Hosaka. "Kind of Xena."

Women's wrestling is still dominated by images of women writhing in slippery muck or by the faux-fashionable Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). Hosaka's circuit is wherever they can build a ring, ranging from National Guard armories (a favorite) to "a Jewish synagogue to a lesbian bar -- the synagogue was more fun than the lesbian bar! Lots of people still have an image of lady wrestlers as big and butch-looking. Pretty sexist stuff."

Hosaka has wrestled all over the world, and says the only country that's really different is Japan. "They don't care about good and evil -- they want to see high-flying and wild throws. And booing is considered impolite, so they cheer everyone."

So how does the sport affect her private life?

"That's why they call it a private life, right?"

OK ... so is wrestling fake or what? "It's a sport, with moves and reversals. There's no choreography, no script. But if your opponent has a particular grip on you, you know how to get out of it. And there's an undeniable entertainment value as you interact with the fans. There's some acting involved, but that's part of projecting your personality, and it helps psyche your opponent.

"Essentially, professional wrestling is soap opera for males. You get behind your favorite wrestler and yell and vent and act stupid. It's expected."

What's about feuds? Hosaka is squaring off against Debbie Combs tonight in a title match, and they have a -- ahem -- history.

"They do play up feuds. It's part of the entertainment package."

How does she actually get along with Combs? "We're not best friends. We've had some problems. I kicked her butt around the world before and I'll do it again."

Hold the Jell-O!


Bullet Featuring: Male and female champions from WWF and WCW
Bullet When: 7 tonight
Bullet Place: Blaisdell Arena
Bullet Tickets: $20-$35
Bullet Call: 591-2211

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