PAL reaches out
to abandoned boxers

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The Police Activities League's boxing program remains closed, but local coaches left a meeting with Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa last night feeling a bit better about the future of youth boxing.

Coaches who attended the meeting held at the main police station said it cleared up some misunderstandings stemming from the announcement earlier this month that the program would be discontinued, and they were told that officers will be allowed to aid in the transition in forming their own organization.

"It's disappointing, but it's easier to take because now we understand what the real intent was and there are options, that they are not totally abandoning the amateur boxing coaches and our kids," said longtime coach Eiichi Jumawan.

"Now there's hope, and a sense that if we organize , if we hustle, if we get together, if we make sure we follow rules, we set up by-laws and all of that, we can keep amateur boxing going. PAL boxing-age kids can still have a venue to compete."

PAL dropped its boxing program July 16, citing safety and manpower concerns, and no longer wanted to be associated with the violence of the sport. Coaches said the meeting did not leave them with the sense that the program would be revived.

"The police department wants to distance itself from PAL boxing, that was very evident tonight," said Ed Galapia, a coach with Kalakaua Boxing Club. "They cited safety concerns and the image it projects.

"To be honest, I'm disappointed with the decision to distance themselves from a program that has been in existence since 1948. Time and time again as we got into the meeting they mentioned how proud they are with the coaches and in our program (for helping) the kids that are basically on the edge and keeping them off the streets."

The coaches said they were caught off-guard by the sudden announcement two weeks ago, but were appreciative of the opportunity to speak with Correa last night and his willingness to assist them.

"One of the coaches said he felt better after this meeting because (Correa) took the time to meet with us and really explain," said Phil Ramirez, also of Kalakaua. "From what I gathered he was still willing to have some manpower to help us transition to running the program ourselves. So it's not like he said, 'We're done, leave us out of it totally.' He offered his help to us to help this transition and see what other options we have."

Said Jumawan: "It was supposed to be transitional, and he thought when they had that meeting that the transitional stages had already been followed. He discovered after reading it in the paper that nobody was told that PAL was getting out of it. That's why it really hit the fan. It was just a bomb."

In the wake of the announcement, Jumawan said five clubs -- East Maui, East Oahu, Wahiawa, Waianae and Pearlside -- put together "organized sparring" sessions, with no winners declared, to give the youth boxers a chance to apply their training in the ring.

Jumawan said the organized sparring could be a first step toward the clubs putting together their own league.

"It went very well, so we want to take that now to more clubs," Jumawan said.

"The chief was saying, whenever funding gets pulled from any organization ... at first there's all this uproar. But then out of the ashes, people that are concerned get together and organize and that's kind of what we did. We shared the idea with everyone else and now we're talking."

PAL, operated by HPD's Juvenile Services Division, continues to sponsor basketball, baseball, volleyball, flag football, judo/karate, kung fu and tennis.

The boxing program opened in 1948 and had 174 registered participants when it folded. PAL held free monthly events for boxers ages 7-17.

"Right now this organized sparring thing is enough to keep the kids' interest there," Jumawan said. "They're not quitting. They're still in the gym because they still have a place to display their skills."

Police Activities League

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