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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 11, 2001

Beat strong in Warrior for UH, Polynesian culture

By Zenaida Serrano Espanol
Advertiser Staff Writer

You've seen him at University of Hawai'i football games, his 6-foot, 290-pound physique fiercely pounding away at his drums, hyping up the crowd.

Vili Fehoko, "The Warrior," greets University of Hawai'i football player Jacob Espiau during pregame introductions at Aloha Stadium.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

"The Warrior," as he's known by the fans, is 36-year-old Vili Fehoko, or "Big Vil," a professional entertainer born in Tonga and raised in La'ie. For the past two years, Fehoko has been energizing UH football fans and players alike as the team's loud and proud mascot.

"I'm there to go to war with (the team) and these guys know that I'm supporting them 100 percent," said Fehoko, a 1983 graduate of Kahuku High.

Fehoko performs as the Warrior under his family's production company, Big Vil Productions. But when not at war on the field, Fehoko works for the Polynesian Cultural Center as a cultural ambassador, a job that allows him to travel and "promote Hawai'i," he said, through cultural demonstrations.

Fehoko also has his own drumming show at the center and it was at one of his shows that a certain head coach noticed him three years ago, said Fehoko's wife, Linda. "He (June Jones) just said, 'I want him.' "

Whether at the games or at his shows, Fehoko takes his drumming very seriously and lives by a theme: one heart, one beat. Fehoko hopes to "reach out and touch people," he said. "I want people to feel what I put into the drums — what is coming from my heart."

It's a theme the Fehokos have taught their four sons, ages 13, 12, 10 and 5; whatever they do, "they have to put their hearts into it," Fehoko said.

Like their father, who played defensive tackle for Kahuku High, the Fehoko boys are very much into football; the second eldest plays for Saint Louis School.

Linda Fehoko added that her football-playing sons have something to think about when deciding what college to attend.

"They know that if they go to any other college apart from UH, they're going to be facing their dad at the north end zone," she said and laughed.

And Fehoko promises to be around then and beyond.

"As long as I live, I'll be the Warrior," Fehoko said.

Those interested in learning more about Fehoko can look forward to a biography by his wife.

The book, which she hopes to have completed by January, will be aptly titled, "Big Vil: One Heart, One Beat."