Laquihon excels at boxing

Amanda Muramoto, editor

Last summer, Justly Laquihon (12) and three other boxers from the state represented Hawaii in the Junior Olympics.

“Boxing is pretty much my entire life,” he said.

At first, Laquihon started kickboxing when he was seven years old. His dad told him that he wanted him to be safe and learn to defend himself.

Then, “my dad wanted me to do something different, and a year later he put me in straight-up American boxing,” Laquihon said.

From there, he started to compete in both boxing and kickboxing. The sport has taught him to respect others and never underestimate someone because they could be better than you think.

“It isn’t really as bad as it sounds. It’s really a fun sport,” Laquihon said.

Besides boxing, Laquihon is also on McKinley’s boys varsity basketball team.

Teammate Erick Diaz (11) said “I’m not surprised that he boxes because he seems like the type of athlete that can excel at multiple sports.”

Whether he’s in the ring or on the court, Laquihon said that he always puts his best effort into each game. He also believes that you must put full responsibility, commitment, and passion into whatever sport you play. The Junior Olympics, which were held in Mobile, Alabama, happens annually. Once the boxers qualify for states on the island, all the winners from each weight division move on to represent Hawaii in their respective division at nationals.

“It’s pretty much head-to-head from the best boxers from each state,” said Laquihon.

It was his first time at this annual competition and he ranked eight out of 750 boxers in his 119 pounds weight division.

At nationals, boxers are trying to “get a spot in the boxing roster for USA boxing,” he said.

The USA boxing team would then go up to the 2012 London Olympics. In order to prepare for the Junior Olympics, during the summer he practiced six days a week. Training included sprinting at Roosevelt High School’s track from 6 to 8 a.m., resting at home until practice once again with the punching bags from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Laquihon said that he put training first and basically sacrificed his whole summer. Laquihon said that he looks up to Manny Pacquiao, a boxer from the Philippines, as a role model. Because Pacquiao worked his way up from poverty to become one of the top boxers, Laquihon admires him for his dedication and commitment. He also relates the Philippines to a part of his boxing plans.

Laquihon said that if things don’t go well in the finals, he will travel to the Philippines and tryout for their boxing team.

He said that it is always good to have “something to fall back on.”

For his future, Laquihon said that he wants to go into professional boxing.

“I really love boxing and I don’t mind doing it for the rest of my life,” he said.

“It’s a passion.”