Following a Hall-of-Fame career in the UFC, B.J. Penn has shifted his attention to the political arena.
The former two-division UFC champion announced Monday that he plans to run for governor of his home state of Hawaii. While Penn did not explicitly launch his campaign, his social media announcement was accompanied by a montage from the 2006 film “300,” which ended with the words “Governor Penn, November 2022.”
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I would never run from a fight or sell out my people,” Penn wrote on Instagram. “As soon as I step into Hawaii’s Governor office I will remove All new federal and state mandates that have been hurting our economy, residents, and ‘ohana. We will get the best doctors, medicines, therapies, and health care the world has to offer to fight this pandemic and always keep Hawaii among the safest and healthiest states in the union.
Penn also revealed that he plans to “get rid of all vaccine passports” and mandates in Hawaii, stating his intention to “follow the constitution to a tee.”
“I am not here to fit in with the other politicians, I am here to get our freedoms back!” Penn concluded.
Under Honolulu’s Safe Access Oahu program, which was implemented in August 2021, patrons at businesses like restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and other establishments will need to show their proof of vaccination. Penn has been outspoken against the recent mandates, which he claims will “destroy Hawaii’s economy.” He recently revealed that he was asked to leave his daughters’ school because he “didn’t have the coronavirus vaccine passport paper.”
Beyond his baseless statements regarding vaccine mandates, Penn also has a history of alcohol-related violence. He was involved in several bar brawls—one of which led to his release from the UFC in September 2019. Earlier that same year, Penn’s estranged girlfriend filed a restraining order against him, alleging years of physical and sexual abuse. The restraining order runs through 2021.
“I woke up one night to him scared, because he got cocaine on my oldest daughter,” Penn’s former partner, Shelean Uaiwa, wrote. “He was freaking out and he wanted to commit suicide.”