Max Holloway: Hawaiian Kickboxer

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You can tell a lot about fighters by their walkout song. Especially in the Reebok era, where self-expression on fight night is pretty limited, the song that fighters choose to play on their way to the Octagon reveals much about who they are as both competitors and individuals. This is particularly true for those who stick to one song for a prolonged stretch of fights. For someone like Ronda Rousey, who walks out to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” the song is an apt description of her public persona, whereas Robbie Lawler’s relentlessly entertaining energy in the cage is perfectly represented by Sam and Dave’s “Hold On (I’m Comin’).”Max Holloway is among the few fighters who have found the single best song to represent who they are and how they fight. Moke Boy’s “Hawaiian Kickboxer” is Hawaiian country music, and Holloway’s hometown of Waianae, Oahu, is most definitely Hawaiian countryside. In fact, singer Moses Kamealoha III — Moke Boy himself — is from Waianae and wrote the song when he got kicked out of Waianae High School. The humble simplicity of the song is fitting for Holloway, who remains grounded after achieving considerable success in a sport beloved by most people from Hawaii. While Holloway often draws comparisons to the state’s greatest MMA offspring in B.J. Penn, their choices in walkout music share the same Venn diagram that the fighters themselves do. Penn walked out to a version of “E Ala E” by Israel Kamakawiowoʻole that began with the introduction of another track, “Hawaiʻi ’78,” both of which are iconic songs by Hawaii’s most iconic musician. It fits Penn, whose ambitions and accomplishments were mythopoetically grandiose. The two songs to which Penn walked out are deeply rooted in Hawaiian identity and specifically Hawaiian sovereignty, whereas the soft-spoken Holloway’s song choice is more fit for potlucks than protests. In that way, “Hawaiian Kickboxer” is far more representative of the typical, everyday people of Hawaii, and as such, it is a better reflection of the culture and upbringing in which Holloway grew up. If the culture of Hawaii, specifically Waianae, informed Holloway’s fighting style — and I believe it did — and “Hawaiian Kickboxer” is representative of that culture, it is only right that Moke Boy’s lyrics would also accurately depict “Blessed” the fighter. When we break down the song into its chorus and two verses, it is clear that they do. For the lyrics in Hawaiian, I have provided translations in parentheses.Verse 1 E ho’omaka kakou i ka, ha’awina (everyone begins with the lessons) E kia’i a’e, ho’opili mai (to guard your space, adhere to this) E keia manawa, peku kakou (right now, everyone kick) He mana, ka mākou (our power) When Holloway entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he was 20 years old and 4-0 as a professional. He went 3-3 in his first two years in the promotion, with his three losses coming against the highest-ranked, most well-known opponents he faced. Needless to say, he was not a lock to become a future contender. Yet each of those losses provided formative lessons for the young fighter that have helped him achieve the longest winning streak in the UFC featherweight division’s history. In his debut loss to Dustin Poirier, …

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