Hawai'i boxer wins world title
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Bruno Escalante Jr. of Waimanalo has something no thieves can take — an amateur boxing world championship.
Escalante won the 112-pound weight class of the boys senior novice division of the Ringside World Championships last month in Kansas City, Mo. With nearly 1,500 participants, the Ringside Championships is considered one of the largest boxing events in the world.
"I surprised myself," said Escalante, who is 16 and a senior at Kailua High. "It's the biggest title I've won. I just trained a little harder for it, and I guess it worked."
Escalante defeated four opponents in four days to win his division. He received a championship belt after beating California's Martin Mercado by decision in the final.
His performance is impressive when considering that he is a relative newcomer to the sport. He joined the East O'ahu Boxing club two years ago after figuring out that he might not be tall enough for basketball.
"I started going to the gym because I wanted to practice basketball," he said. "But then I saw the (boxers) training and I decided to try it. I think it was a good move because I'm only 5-2. I can admit now that I'm kind of short for basketball."
Blane Yoshida, head coach at East O'ahu, said Escalante has quickly become one of the state's top prospects. According to Yoshida, Escalante has become too advanced for the other youth boxers at the club.
"He has to spar with the pro boxers already," Yoshida said. "He had the natural talent from the start, but he's also the hardest worker in the gym."
Boxing has apparently changed Escalante's lifestyle as well.
"I was a troublemaker before, always getting into fights," Escalante said. "But I feel like I'm a better person now. I just focus on boxing."
The East O'ahu club is based at Waimanalo District Park. Some of the club's equipment was recently stolen, but that was not enough to stop Escalante from his daily training.
"There's a lot of negative stuff coming out of Waimanalo," Yoshida said. "It's really encouraging to see something positive like Bruno come out of here."
Escalante will fight at another national tournament in California in October.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.