Despite a lack of campaign goals or promises, Jason Parillo is excited for B.J. Penn to enter the political fray.
In a recent interview with The Schmo, Penn’s former coach endorsed the former two-division UFC champion’s decision to become a politician and claimed that it was a natural progression for the long-time fighter.
“BJ Penn, what people don’t realize at the end of the day, he pays attention to politics,” Parillo said of Penn. “He pays attention to history. He’s a history buff. We’d be in camps and he’d just be on the internet reading history, day in and day out, talking to us, ‘Hey Parillo, what do you think of this?’…BJ cares a lot, he cares a lot about Hawaii more than anyone. He loves Hawaii. He loves his state, he really is a man of the people out there. At the end of the day, who else is going to do it?”
Penn officially announced his intention to run for governor of Hawaii as Republican alongside four other GOP candidates on the ballot with the intention of replacing incumbent Democratic Governor David Ige, who is term-limited and ineligible to run for a third term in office.
Penn joined the GOP after finding his political fervor during the pandemic. The former fighter spoke out against mask mandates and vaccine restrictions, promising to lift them if elected governor.
However, Penn’s campaign has also been criticized for a lack of political direction. Since most restrictions have been lifted over the course of the past few months, Penn has not updated his gubernatorial goals. His official campaign website does not list any goals, though it invites Hawaiians to “join the fight” and donate to his campaign.
Despite the lack of campaign promises, Parillo believes Penn’s decision to run for office could be beneficial for the fighter as well as his native Hawaii.
“He’s a true fighter, no one can talk him out of not fighting over his last couple of years of fighting,” Parillo said. “He needs something to focus on and he’ll put in his whole heart into it, he’ll put all his energy into it and I think he’ll make some good changes and good progress for Hawaii. Because at the end of the day, he’s not really going out there doing it for money.”
Most recently, Penn spoke out against gun control in the wake of the Uvalde elementary school shooting that led to the deaths of 19 children and two teachers. “I never had a gun but I know it’s to protect yourself against other guns and protect yourself against your government. It’s simple math,” Penn said on Instagram stories.