Before Walter “Pop” Carvalho Sr. died on March 23, 2017 at age 83, he went full circle, taking a keen interest in training youngsters again.
His son, Wally Carvalho, will do the same to honor his father with the 2nd annual Toughman Hawaii Next Generation Junior Division tournament of champions.
The kickboxing card will be held Saturday, May 2 at Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium and will feature a lot of sons of Wally’s old fighting friends, a clear sign that age is creeping upon him.
Depending on sign-ups, the tournament may be extended to another day. He’s extended invitations to fighting clubs around the state and has youngsters coming in from California and far away as Tennessee.
Raymond Castro was one of the first Toughman champs back in the day. His son, Raycen Castro, is on the card.
Hilo’s Troy “Rude Boy” Mandaloniz, a former UFC fighter, has his son Colty Boy on the card.
He was the sheep riding champion at the Panaewa Stampede last year.
Ashton Castro, another Toughman champ, has his son Chacen Castro on the card.
Fighters from the 808 Fight Factory on Oahu, BJ Penn’s gym, and Hilo’s Spirit of the White Robe, and Ka’u boxing club are among the big-name clubs invited.
If it sort of sounds like a state tournament for kickboxing, that’s because it is.
But Carvalho’s focus is on safety and fun. As per his custom, he also buys medals for each contestant, so everyone goes home with a medal or trophy.
The weigh-ins will be held at the Nanilo’a Crown Room to give the youngsters a taste of a big-time environment.
Carvalho pointed out that there’s a chance there may be a future MMA fighter on the card. But he’s far more concerned with keeping fights in a cage rather than at school.
“I get calls from schools when kids get into fights,” he said. “I’d rather teach these kids to sharpen their skills in a club, where they can learn discipline. I don’t want to see fights in school. It should be in a controlled environment.
“I also talk about positive things they can do for their futures. Not everyone is going to be a future MMA fighter. But they can take that discipline and become a contractor, electrician, plumber and build life skills.”
Carvalho is a contractor by trade and has invited kids from the Youth Challenge Academy on his card. For those who don’t fight, he’ll hire them to help set up the cage and feed them lunch.
“What drives me is to see the faces of the kids when they win an award, Best fight of the night, and see the faces of their families,” he said. “It’s never been about the money with me.”
Carvalho only has one request that customers buy their tickets at Got Gifts in Prince Kuhio Plaza. When customers buy tickets at the door, it slows down the card’s start time, he said.
His own sons, Aaron and Ronnie Carvalho, have fought in Toughman events in the past. Someday soon, it’ll be the Grandpa Generation when he watches his grandkids highlight his show.
For more information, call 960-4341.