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Time To Crown A New Miss MMA

Miss MMA Hawaii Leslie Kaleiwahea. Photo by Robert Tolentino, courtesy Leslie Kaleiwahea

Leslie Kaleiwahea of Aiea started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu about five years ago, and says she fell in love with the sport as soon as she hit the mat.

Now she has a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, holds the title of Miss MMA Hawaii 2011 and works as a personal and professional trainer at the new UFC Gym BJ Penn in Kakaako.

She also has a background in boxing, and grew up playing sports, particularly soccer and basketball.

“All my life I’ve been an athlete,” says Kaleiwahea, a 2003 Pearl City High School graduate. “And then I started boxing when I was 18. It was something different, and I had a good friend who was in boxing and kickboxing. I liked the cardio workout and the self-defense training.”

For jiu-jitsu, she first trained at BJ Penn’s gym in Hilo and then at Gracie Barra when she moved back to Oahu in 2008.

“I’m competitive, and martial arts is a tool to help me be disciplined and to have self-control,” she says. “My goal and passion is to be a trainer and to instill what I’ve learned from my coaches (including coach Leandro Nyza) to my clients.”

At the upcoming Big Boys Toys & MMA Hawaii Expo June 15-17 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, Kaleiwahea’s reign as Miss MMA Hawaii will come to an end. Those interested in competing for the 2012 title can still enter. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. June 1. The contest is open to females age 18 and above, and contestants will be judged on their outfit, beauty, physical fitness, energy and audience applause.

The expo also will host a Hot Import Model, GoGo Dance, Lingerie, Bikini and Big Boys Best Crew Battle contests. The winner of each category will take home $500 in cash and prizes.

There also will be live MMA cage fights, a jiu-jitsu tournament, an auto showcase featuring some of the most tricked-out custom cars and bikes from around the Islands, and more than 100 vendors with clothing, products and services for the active lifestyle. For more information, visit bigboystoysmmaexpo.com, email valen@hpelive.com or call 391-6317.