Training young boxers for success in life

Hawaiian Electric
4 min readDec 28, 2023

by Donica Kaneshiro | Dec. 28, 2023

After Hanna and Ricky Tangaro finish work at Hawaiian Electric’s Kahe Power Plant on Oahu, the former professional boxers take on their after-hours roles as coaches at their backyard gym, HR Boxing. There, at their Waianae home, they juggle raising their five kids with training the next generation of boxers.

In November, one of their daughters, 16-year-old Alexis, took the 125-pound youth female title at the 48th Annual Gene Lewis Invitational in Mesa, Ariz. HR Boxing took home an impressive eight champion belts from the tournament.

The following month, Alexis fell short in a controversial decision at the 2023 USA Boxing National Championships, but her younger sister, 14-year-old Angelique, captured the junior female 90-pound title, securing her spot on the 2024 Team USA Junior Olympic team. All six of the fighters that HR Boxing took to the 2023 National Championships landed on the ranking charts, securing three gold, one silver and two bronze finishes in the tournament with over 1,000 elite-level participants.

Earlier in the year, Alexis also captured the junior bantamweight title at the USA Boxing National Women’s Championships in Toledo, Ohio.

“We had to go because it was the first-ever all-women’s nationals and it’s very rewarding to see all the little girls and women being able to showcase all their hard work,” Hanna said. “It was definitely a very humbling moment to see my daughter’s hand get raised in the finals.”

Hanna and Ricky are now turning their focus to the team’s next event in March 2024, the USA Boxing National Qualifier in Albuquerque, N.M.

Also on the schedule for 2024, the couple also hopes to host local boxing events to help Hawaii fighters gain the experience they need to participate at a national level, as the continued success of young local boxers has opened the door to funding from event sponsors.

It’s a goal that Hanna and Ricky could scarcely have imagined seven years ago when the couple first started HR Boxing with one student.

Backyard Boxing & Life Lessons

Hanna and Ricky met as children at Waianae Boxing Club, where they trained together. They eventually got married and moved to the mainland to pursue their own professional boxing dreams.

The couple had returned home to spend time with family when they were approached by a kid looking for help with his boxing skills.

“He said, ‘Oh auntie, uncle, I wanted to ask you guys, can you guys train me?’ and that’s how we started from one kid,” Hanna recalled. “Before you know it, it was 30 kids in our garage.”

As the number of kids continued to grow, the couple enlisted help from their friends and neighbors to help them remake their grassy backyard into boxing rings and rows of punching bags.

“You’ll hear in the news what’s going on with all the kids on our side. And I know we play a little part in keeping some of the kids away from that. It’s good to be able to give back. To keep them off the street and steer them in a positive direction,” Hanna said.

“I feel like this sport teaches you a lot of life lessons,” she said. “Some of our mottos are hard work, dedication, accountability, responsibility and most of all respect.”

Hanna also likes being a positive role model for her daughters and other girls.

“It was always important to show them that, no matter what, you can do anything if you just put your mind to it. So in order to instill that in them, I have to lead by example,” the control technician said. “I feel like what I do at work and outside of work with our boxing club are both examples of feminists standing up.”

Hanna and Ricky say they think of all the HR Boxing students as their hanai kids. “One of the big things we stress in our gym is working together as a family. We might not be blood, but blood doesn’t make you family,” she said.

“Two hours here, you’re family,” Ricky added.

Ricky, a journeyman insulator, said the hectic schedule never leaves the couple exhausted.

“To us, it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “It actually picks us up, honestly, coming from working hard and coming over here like seeing all these kids. It’s like OK, and now I’m doing something positive.”

Hanna said the lessons the kids learn in their gym go far beyond the boxing ring. “We would like all the kids to know that hard work always pays off, so keep striving!”

Donica Kaneshiro is a communications consultant at Hawaiian Electric Company.



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