Mayor Billy Kenoi bid good luck to Hilo mixed martial arts fighter BJ Penn Tuesday as the fighter left to prepare for the defense of his Ultimate Fighting Championship world lightweight title.
Mayor Kenoi lauded Penn as a “positive role model and mentor to youth in our community” at the fighter’s Kino‘ole Street gym.
Kenoi proclaimed “BJ Penn Day” October 27 in Hawai‘i County as Penn left to begin serious training this week in Orange County, California, for his December 12 title defense in Memphis, Tennessee.
Penn is the #1 ranked lightweight mixed martial arts fighter in the world and currently holds the UFC lightweight title.
“BJ Penn has the full support and backing of a legion of Big Island family, friends and fans whose cheers should be loud enough to hear in Memphis on December 12,” Kenoi said.
Penn and his family reside in Hilo where he operates his mixed martial arts-related business ventures. Penn also delivers anti-drug and anti-violence messages to Big Island youth.
Mayor Kenoi called on residents to “recognize and support the contributions of BJ Penn to our island.”
“He’s a champion in our hearts in every way,” Kenoi said, “He’s the pride of the Big Island and we wish him the best of luck in his next fight.”