LAHAINA - Dennis Dorado is a high-spirited man of 45 years who works as a cook at Koa's down on Front Street in Lahaina, but his first love is definitely fixated on mankind's oldest sport: boxing.
Growing up near South Central Los Angeles, he was exposed to karate, Jiu Jitsu and baseball, but it was boxing that truly grabbed him. In the glorious days of Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler, Dorado entered the boxing world at the Hoover Street Boxing Gym in the neighborhood run by the notorious Crips gang of the era. He also trained at the 108th Street Gym with Bill Slater, who had worked with heavyweight champ Ken Norton.
Then it was on to East L.A., the Olympic Auditorium, the Police Athletic League and further into the sport in Philadelphia, PA, in the legendary downtown sweatboxes that produced such icons as Joe Frazier. Dorado was a sparring partner and trainer during these years, entrenching his energetic spirit deeper and deeper into the sport.
He had visited Maui as a child many years ago, and the aloha allure of the Valley Isle had struck a chord with him.
"The people are so nice here - there is such a hometown feeling in the community. It makes me feel like a kid again," said Dorado.
He has settled in here on the West Side, finding the ideal job at Koa's and, moreover, continuing his love of boxing at Island Fitness in the Lahaina Square Shopping Center.
"Holly and Frank Robey (owners of Island Fitness) are very supportive of our Lahaina Boxing Club," said Dorado recently from the spacious interior of the gym.
"We try to focus on fun, and we actually have more women taking part in the program than men. The classes are geared for getting a good workout, as most people are not intending to have bouts. And we are planning on starting a kids' program in the summertime."
The classes are free for gym members and held on Wednesdays at 4 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10 a.m. For more information, call 250-8172 or visit Island Fitness.