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B.J. Penn announces intention to run for governor of Hawaii

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B.J. Penn
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

B.J. Penn is taking a stand against government mandates by running for office himself.

The UFC Hall of Famer announced Tuesday that he plans to run for governor in his native Hawaii. Penn, 42, made the announcement via Instagram along with a video reiterating his mission statement along with an edited clip from the movie 300 featuring a character standing in for Penn questioning the suitability of “other Hawaii politicians.”

The text in the video is as follows:

Hawaii is losing all of its freedoms. Our economy is being destroyed and all of our rights are being taken away. We need somebody to fight for us.

The video closes with text reading, “Governor Penn. November 2022.”

Penn has been vocal on social media about his issues with Hawaii’s government-mandated COVID-19 safety protocols. Currently, citizens of Hawaii are required to wear masks in indoor public spaces and visitors must show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of flying to Hawaii to avoid 10 days of quarantine. These restrictions have greatly affected Hawaii’s tourism industry.

In August, Hawaii Gov. David Ige urged potential tourists not to visit the islands.

Penn’s Instagram statement directly addresses the the mandates as he states his intention to lift all restrictions in the interest of helping the economy and Hawaii’s residents.

“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. “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.

“We will get rid of all vaccine passports. Hawaii will be a vaccinated with Aloha and unvaccinated with Aloha policy for everyone. Same with the masks. We will follow the constitution to the tee. I am not here to fit in with the other politicians, I am here to get our freedoms back!”

Penn’s time as a UFC star has made him a celebrity in Hawaii. “The Prodigy” captured titles at both lightweight and welterweight during his time with the promotion and holds notable wins over Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Diego Sanchez, and Takanori Gomi among others.

However, he has also had several run-ins with the law on the islands, including a recent arrest earlier this year for suspicion of DUI following a belligerent encounter in Honokaa, Hawaii, on Jan. 23.