- Associated Press - Friday, March 19, 2021

The future of slap fighting in the United States — UFC President Dana White is an advocate of the sport — just might be in the palm of the Da Crazy Hawaiian’s hand.

Slap fighting, yes the art of striking another fighter with an open hand for sport, is the latest head-turning spectacular.

“Some people just need to be slapped,” Da Crazy Hawaiian said.

Trying to poke fun at the slap-until-you’re-knocked out-sport would be, yes, a slap in the face to the Da Crazy Hawaiian.

He might take offense, but Layne Kailiilauokekoa Viernes - his actual name - can handle the pain.

He has dished out the fiercest open-hand smacks in the United States in his bid to be the most punishing slapper in slap fighting.

The soundtrack from his highlight reel of slaps sounds like the constant cracking of a bullwhip and he’s used his heavy hand of justice to defeat every cherry-cheeked challenger in his path.

“I’m putting my head on the line,” Viernes said. “I want to be a pioneer in the sport.”

Viernes has joined the SlapStrike roster and will appear as a guest Saturday on the promotion’s “The War from Warsaw” pay-per-view event in Poland. The $14.99 event streams across all FITE platforms and pro wrestlers Matt Striker and Vampiro are on the broadcast team.

The rules for fights on Saturday’s card are simple:

- The match will consist of three alternate slaps or strikes.

- There is a 60-second time limit between strikes.

- The offensive player’s feet must be no further apart than shoulder distance.

- A legal strike is one that is delivered only to the cheek of the opponent with an open palm.

Please, make sure the ice buckets are full.

The 6-foot-3, 370-pound Viernes, who turns 31 next month, was raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and since settled in Springfield, Missouri. He played football, wrestled, even boxed growing up on the island. But the goal of slapping another man silly wasn’t set until around 2018 when he saw videos of Vasily “Dumpling” Kamotsky, the big Russian universally recognized as the greatest slap fighting champion.

“I saw, whoa, man, this is what I want to do,” Viernes said. “Once I figured out it was a thing, I just really wanted to do it. It was just in me. Everyone around me thought it was a joke. Thought I was just talking just to talk.”

The reality was, he was slapping just to get slapped.

Viernes works in construction and it was during a break he saw an ad for a slap fighting competition in Branson, the entertainment tourist spot and home of the comic Yakov Smirnoff. Viernes called his fiancee and told her “this is my chance.”

The slap fights were only 40 miles down the road! What a country.

“I called the promoter and said, ‘Hey, you got room for me? I’m willing to do it yesterday,‘” Viernes said.

What happened next went down in slap fight lore — and with some 1.4 million YouTube views.

Da Crazy Hawaiian and Hillbilly Hippie got to lay the slap down round after round that led to a few punch-drunk stumbles but no decision. Neither fighter turned the other cheek.

Finally, the moment of truth: the rattled Hippie stood with his hands clasped behind his back. Viernes measured his right hand against the Hippie’s face and brought it back while the crowd chanted “One! Two! Three!” and with that, came the slap shot that rocked 350 pounds of beef into his spotter and they crashed to the floor. The dazed Hippie needed three people to help him to his feet while the Branson crowd went wild.

On that night, a slapperstar was born.

“It took me a week to stop looking like the ‘Goonies’ monster,” Viernes said.

His secret to success?

“I like to channel my chi, channel my energy,” he said. “It’s all fun and games until you figure out, man, this guy is hitting me with something else other than just his hand. It’s an inner-energy you bring out. I basically bring my power from the ground.”

The Dumpling fights Maciej Kwiatkowski in the first round of the tournament and Viernes will appear on the broadcast to challenge the champion.

“I’m hoping it’s Dumpling,” Viernes said. “I just need to let them know, you guys might have started it, but America is here to reign over it for years to come.”

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