A Million To 1 Shot

Mike Malone, who grew up tough in East Oahu, says he’s ‘ready to scrap’ Saturday when he takes on the giant Korean K1 champ Hong-Man Choi at Blaisdell Arena

Friday - April 27, 2007
By Chad Pata
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Mike Malone with his children (clockwise from top right) Nani, 14, Michael Jr., 4 and Thomas, 11
Mike Malone with his children (clockwise from top right)
Nani, 14, Michael Jr., 4 and Thomas, 11

When it comes to crossing the divide between movies and fighting, few know it like Mak Takano, who is in town promoting this Saturday’s K1 World Grand Prix Hawaii at the Blaisdell Arena.

He has trained everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Robert Redford to Brad Pitt. So one must give him some latitude when he starts making movie references to fighters, and he believes he has found the perfect match here in Hawaii’s own Mike Malone.

“He is truly a ‘Rocky’ story,“says Takano.“He’s a little bit older, he’s not the best of the best skillwise, he’s not the biggest guy, in fact he’s fighting the biggest guy in K1. It’s one of the stories of which dreams are made.”

One must suppose those dreams would depend on the person, as the average man would consider it a nightmare to be fighting a man a foot taller and 150 pounds heavier than himself, but Malone is anything but average.

Malone trains in his Kaneohe garage with son Michael Jr. and sparring partner Kaleo Kwan; meditation is good for the body and mind

“I was like whoa, wait a minute, this guy is 7 feet 2 inches, 350 pounds,“says Malone of his opponent, Korean K1 Champ HongMan Choi.

“But we worked everything out, and it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for me. This is their No. 1 guy; it’s a David and Goliath thing. I’ve got nothing to lose. I always put on a good show; I’m going to put my game face on and come in ready to scrap.”

For those unfamiliar with K1, it is a stand-up variety of fighting involving punching and kicking, no grappling. There are no weight restrictions, so one will often find wide disparity in the weight of the competitors. Some may remember that Akebono went on to have a rather dubious career in K1 after retiring from sumo.

The fights are all rapid fire, three rounds of three minutes each, so the action is intense, and as soon as one fight is done, the next one begins. It is currently the most highly rated sports program in Japan, and the fight here will be televised live there.

Malone will be fighting in one of the Super Fights, which serve as spacers between the fights in the eight-man Grand Prix tournament, which will decide who gets to be the Hawaii champ in the Final Elimination Tournament in Seoul in September. The Grand Prix showcase the best in K1, so for an unknown like Malone to get a shot is truly an honor.

“It’s probably the first time K1 has done something like this, to give a huge opportunity to a person who has no titles, who has not won any regional K1 tournament,” says Takano. “This is one of the last chances Malone will have to really showcase himself and have this opportunity. It’s got Rocky all over it.”

So after receiving the call from Takano to prepare for Choi two weeks ago, Malone knew he had to get ready in a hurry. In order to simulate Choi’s enormous advantage in height, he had his sparring partners tape a boxing glove on the end of a stick and used it to hold Malone off.

As far as reaching the giant’s head, he measured his banana bag and found the top of it measured 7 feet 2 inches.

“I can kick the chains over the bag so I can reach his head,” says Malone, who is 12-0 in fights here locally, including an extra round decision over Dustin Hanning in

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