Fighting is ingrained deep into the genetic material of Van Oscar Penovaroff. A native of Kailua Kona, Hawaii but now residing in Reading, PA, Penovaroff was an alternate on the 2004 US Olympic boxing squad after 120 amateur fights. He also won the 135 pound world title with the Hawaiian-based X-1 World Events mixed martial arts outfit, concluding with a 4-1 record.
When Penovaroff returns to the ring Saturday, May 22 at the Sovereign Center in Reading, PA, boxing will be the only combat sport on his mind. Penovaroff will be featured in a six-round bout against Jamar “Sandman” Saunders of Atlanta, Georgia on “Pain on Penn Street”, which will be promoted by King’s Promotions.
Penovaroff once trained at the Olympic Development Program at Northern Michigan University alongside Travis Kauffman and at the American Kickboxing Academy with current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stars Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch.
However, Penovaroff never forgot his first love of boxing and returned to the Sweet Science to follow his dream of being the next great Hawaiian fighter.
“I was an MMA champion but I relinquished my belt just to focus on boxing because of guys like [Hawaiian-raised boxing champions] Jesus Salud, Ben Villaflor and Brian Viloria. I would love to go down as the best boxer ever from Hawaii someday.”
Hawaii’s most recent champion, former two-time junior-flyweight world champion and 2000 US Olympian Viloria, offered his ringing endorsement of Penovaroff’s warrior spirit.
“He reminds me of myself with the hunger and determination to be on top,” says Viloria. “He showed hunger and does all the essential things to be a world class fighter and a champion. Coming from a small group of island thousands of miles away from the rest of the United States, us Hawaiians try to use our talents to project ourselves onto the national and world stage.
Though the American Northeast’s climate is a little different from what he’s used to, boxing fans in Pennsylvania are just beginning to warm up to Penovaroff.
“I can’t wait to put on a great show for all the fans in Reading. On May 22, I’m going to make a huge statement and show everyone what I’m made of.”
Tickets, priced at $65, $50, $35 and $25, are on sale now and can be purchased at Kingsboxing.com, the Sovereign Center Box Office at 700 Penn Street in Reading (610-898-7200) and at all Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com).