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Local jiu jitsu champ has no qualms taking on men

    Jeannin-Melissa Russo, left, Natalie Oana and Brigitte Russo.

NATIONAL MEDIA carried a story last week about a boy who forfeited an Iowa state high school championship wrestling match by refusing to take on a girl, Cassy Herkelman, 14, a freshman. Joel Northrup, a home-schooler competing as a sophomore, said: "Wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner." His dad is a pastor in a nondenominational church. I called Daynin "Grappler" Dashefsky, a National American Grappling Association champ in Brazilian jiu jitsu, who trains with men, for comment. The former beauty queen from Nanakuli came through like a champ, saying: "I train with men 98 percent of the time. In one tournament there were no women so I was given the option to compete against a man, and I did." Daynin lost but went down fighting. She suffered a neck injury during training that resulted in surgery but continues to train with men. "Women today train extra hard to keep up and compete on the same level as men in order to become better at what they do and to be respected as true athletes," she said. "Unfortunately, the men, in a lot of cases, have the bigger ego and the last thing they want to face is being beaten by a girl in front of all their family, friends and peers, which is truly understandable." …

…PROSECUTING Attorney Keith Kaneshiro saw the film "Heaven’s Rain," a true story of a tragic crime and its effects on the survivors, at the National District Attorneys Conference last fall. He was so impressed with filmmaker Brooks Douglass that he arranged for the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office to show the film at 5:30 p.m. March 17 at Dole Cannery Regal Theaters. Filmmaker Douglass, whose life story is told in the film, and Taryn Manning, who plays Steve McGarrett’s sister on the "Hawaii Five-0" and the character Leslie Douglass in "Heaven’s Rain," will attend and participate in a post-film discussion. It’s a powerful story of what crime victims experience and how the justice system can better serve them. For more info and to purchase $10 advance tickets, go to Proceeds will go to the nonprofit Sex Abuse Treatment Center, which works closely with the prosecutor’s victim/witness division in prosecuting sex assault cases. …

FASHION DESIGNER Michael Kors, featured in Neiman’s spring InCircle Entree mag, lists Bette Midler‘s first album, "The Divine Miss M," as his classic album. The "Project Runway" judge says he’s always been a Midler fan and now she is a good friend and one of his clients. "She’s someone who has scaled the heights and still stayed real," he said of the star, who has Hawaii roots.

LAST FEBRUARY, Natalie Oana, 51, mother of Jeannin-Melissa and Brigitte Russo, was diagnosed with acute leukemia, a cancer of the blood. Her Kamehameha Class of 1977 friends will hold Operation Nat Oana at Kamehameha’s Ho’olaule’a tomorrow to help her find a bone marrow donor. The drive will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kamehameha’s Kapalama Campus, Konia Hallway, Room 107. Call Natalie’s classmate Mona Wood-Sword (no relation) at 218-5546 for more info.

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