An old and violent Hawaiian tradition of assaulting white people served as the foundation of Boston Salmon’s boxing career.
Salmon brings his impressive amateur boxing credentials to UFC 236 in what is his highly-anticipated UFC Octagon debut. The first-ever contract recipient on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series told Bloody Elbow how this old tradition pushed him into boxing.
“Back in the days before the 1990s, you had ‘Beat Haole Crap Day.’ So basically, beat the white man day,” Salmon shared. “If you were light-skinned, hopefully you didn’t go to school if that was the day. The Hawaiians and the Polynesians would come to school and they would beat you up.”
Salmon’s father was almost half-Hawaiian, but his light-complexion made him a target. “My dad was fortunate enough that he could actually fight. A lot of the Hawaiians he got into fights with he beat them up. He got a lot of respect,” Salmon continued. “A lot of people also knew he was Hawaiian and a lot of his siblings were brown.”
“My father took me to the gym when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. I didn’t want to fight, I didn’t want to train. I didn’t want to box. It’s kind of like Oscar De La Hoya’s boxing roots, I always tell everyone. I was crying when he dropped me off at the gym,” Salmon added. “He said, ‘son, you need to learn how to fight. You’re light-skinned. When you go to middle school and high school, people are going to want to pick on you and you need to learn to defend yourself.’”
Salmon is proud of his Hawaiian heritage. Anyone who dares call him “Haole” better be prepared to scrap. “Growing up in Hawaii, if someone calls [me] ‘Haole or Haole crap,’ I take that to offense. I have Hawaiian blood. I know how to fight,” he assured. “I was born in Hawaii. I was raised in Hawaii. If someone calls me that and they don’t know me, I’m f**king scrapping. I’m fighting.”
Fellow Hawaiian fighters Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros have often preached the love and unity present in the island state. Salmon says “Beat Haole Crap Day” began dying out around the time he was in school and that, these days, Hawaii has a much different culture.
“If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you’ll see there are a whole bunch of different ethnicity. You have Asians, white people, black people, Hawaiians. Everyone is mixed,” he shared. “Hawaii is a whole different culture. We don’t really judge anyone about where they come from anymore. If you’re considered a good friend or you are family, we’re all one. It’s unity.”
Salmon fights Khalid Taha in a bantamweight bout at UFC 236. The event takes place at the State Farm Arena on Saturday, April 13. Keep up with Bloody Elbow for live highlights, updates, and results on all of the night’s action.