Kaua‘i’s King Of The Ring Fights On

Eben Kaneshiro of Omao (left) with Ricky Wallace prior at their weigh-in

When it comes to Mixed Martial Arts on Kaua’i, Eben Kaneshiro is literally the “King of the Ring.” The 1997 Kaua’i High School graduate went into his latest fight March 12 with high hopes of capturing the 145-pound X-1 World Event “Champions III” title belt.

But after a valiant effort, Kaneshiro fell to Oahu fighter Ricky Wallace by way of TKO in the second round at a packed Blaisdell Arena.

“Came up short tonight,” he said. “It was a great back-

and-forth battle, and the fans got what they paid for. Congratulations to my opponent Ricky Wallace for a hard-fought, well-deserved win. Big thanks to everyone who came out to support. I love you guys.”

Kaneshiro, who lives and trains in Portland, Ore., still has deep roots on the Garden Isle. He comes back in between fights and

remains popular throughout fighting circles here. The Omao native usually headlines the popular Kaua’i Cage Matches put on by Garden Isle MMA mastermind Vance Pascua.

Earlier this year, the 31-year-old created shirts with a photo of King Kalakaua on the front to promote one of his fights. But instead of Kalakaua’s head, Kaneshiro

used his, which came with a beard similar to the one worn by the last reigning king of Hawaii.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 135-pound Kaneshiro has a unique style that utilizes both boxing and jiu-jitsu.

With no Kaua’i fighter currently at the sport’s top level, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, some local MMA pundits say Kaneshiro may well be on his way, especially if a featherweight division is created.

In his latest fight against Wallace, the X-1 World Event 145-pound titleholder, Kaneshiro knew it was going to be a war.

“My neck is killing me today,” he said a day after the bout. “I guess getting dropped on your head is not a good idea.”

For Wallace, his confidence going into the fight was as high as ever. He said his focus was on being in the best shape of his fighting career, as he headed into what he called “a battle” against his Kaua’i foe.

“I expected the best from Eben and he gave it his all,” the Hawaii Kai native said. “He’s been around the game awhile and has fought good fighters, but like I said before our fight, I’d win and I did.”

Still, even after the loss, Kaneshiro will keep the hardware – not the championship belt, but his crown for being Kaua’i’s “King of the Ring.” After all, he did anoint himself a king on the shirts he made, so he might as well still act like royalty.

dshimogawa@midweekkauai.com

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