Categorized | Sports

Kailua-Kona’s Penovaroff boxes the ‘Sandman’ (May 22)


Van Oscar Penovaroff

Van Oscar Penovaroff

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. The fight is a lightweight (135 pounds) division bout.

The main event will feature Travis Kauffman of Reading, PA against Chris Koval of Youngstown, OH for the vacant WBF Intercontinental heavyweight title.

The 27-year-old Penovaroff holds a record of 4-0-1 (3 KO) in professional boxing, with the only blemish being a controversial draw with Francisco Palacios in his last bout. Penovaroff controlled the tempo and appeared to clearly win every round but only walked away with an even verdict. One judge scored it six rounds to none for Penovaroff.

Penovaroff, himself of half-Filipino descent, turned pro in 2006 in Manila, Philippines but fought only once more in boxing before taking time off to focus on mixed martial arts. After two easy knockout wins in Hawaii, Penovaroff signed with manager/trainer Marshall Kauffman and relocated to King’s Boxing Gym in Reading.

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.

“That’s what Van Oscar tries to do every time he steps in the ring, he shows that he belongs there. He trains extremely hard and can and will mix it up with the best out there.”

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, the Sovereign Center Box Office at 700 Penn Street in Reading (610-898-7200) and at all Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000 or

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Become a fan on facebook



%d bloggers like this: