For his 13th birthday on Sept. 1, Keoni Adric Jr. spent the day spearfishing. It hardly matters that his catch was relatively small that day.
Adric’s big catches are in the boxing ring.
In 2010 alone, he has captured three prestigious championships: the Title National Championship in Tennessee, the Junior Golden Gloves National Championship in Nevada, and the Ringside World Championship in Kansas City, Mo.
"Not too many kids can say they won those three titles in one year, and I don’t think anybody from Hawaii ever did it," said Keoni Adric Sr., who serves as both father and coach for his rising star.
Adric Jr. will try to make it a grand slam of boxing titles this week when he travels to San Antonio, Texas, for the Police Activities League National Championships, which starts tomorrow and ends Oct. 9.
"I don’t get nervous or really think about the fights too much," the soft-spoken Adric Jr. said. "I just go in and do the best I can."
At his current pace, he could end up being one of Hawaii’s elite boxers. He is certainly training in the right place to get to that level.
Although the Adrics live in Pupukea, their home gym is the history-rich Waipahu Boxing Club. They make a 1-hour drive through after-school traffic just to get from the North Shore to Waipahu.
After a 2- to 3-hour workout, they make the drive back home at night.
"No place else we’d rather be," Adric Sr. said. "We know we can get the best training at this gym. There’s just so much knowledge here; the drive is nothing compared to what we get out of it."
It all starts with Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame trainer Al Silva. Former world champions Ben Villaflor, Jesus Salud and Brian Viloria all trained under Silva at Waipahu. He has been involved in boxing for more than 70 years and — at 93 years young — is still a daily presence at the gym.
"Kids like (Keoni) keep me in it," Silva said. "I see somebody like him, and I think ‘OK, he’s the next one.’ I see this kid work, and I see a world champ."
Adric Sr. trained under Silva at Waipahu 25 years ago, and they now run the gym together. When Adric Jr. turned 8, he was introduced to boxing by his father.
"It was kind of my decision to sign him up — I wanted to see whether he liked it or not," Adric Sr. said. "He took a liking to it and been coming almost every day since then. I’m glad he’s learning under Mr. Silva. That’s why I brought him here in the first place."
As recently as a year ago, when Adric Jr. was 12, he progressed past the Hawaii competition in his age/weight group. As a result, he rarely fights in Hawaii.
"I want to get more fights here, but it’s hard because there’s not that many guys to challenge," said Adric Jr., who is in the eighth grade.
That is why the Adrics decided to enroll Adric Jr. in a home-school program in 2010, in part so he could travel to other states for tournaments. So far, the plan has worked.
At the Junior Golden Gloves tournament in Nevada, Adric Jr. won the 90-pound division for his age group, and then was named the Outstanding Boxer for the entire 11-12 age group (which featured 16 weight divisions).
But the Ringside World Championship title may be his most prestigious to date. That tournament featured more than 1,400 boxers from around the world. Adric Jr.’s title came in the 11-12 age group in the "open" 90-pound division, meaning every bout was against an experienced youth boxer.
Adric Jr. had to win four bouts in four days to take the title, and he did it in impressive fashion. Two of his opponents took standing 8-counts — a rarity in youth boxing.
As Silva put it: "We don’t have fights for him in Hawaii. So for him to just train and then go up there and fight — and win — that’s a big thing."
Adric Jr., who is 5 feet tall, is diligent with his training. The home-school schedule allows him to get some of his cardiovascular training completed in the mornings. Some days, he runs up the hills of Pupukea. Other days, he swims at the famous North Shore beaches.
"That’s one thing — he never complains," Adric Sr. said. "I never have to get on him about training. Every day, when it’s time to go, he’s ready."
Adric Jr.’s only distraction might be the ocean. Because he grew up on the North Shore, he has a fondness for several ocean sports.
"I like spearfishing, bodysurfing, jumping off the rock at Waimea …," he said. "But I know boxing comes first."
After this week’s PAL championship, Adric Jr. will have some time to rest, and then will follow a similar travel schedule in 2011.
"I hope I can be a pro one day," he said. "I just have to keep training hard and accomplish more things."