Three-time champ Tatsuhiko Hikiji passes skills on to daughter

Mililani freshman Erin Hikiji, who will wrestle for third place at 97 pounds, with her parents Tatsuhiko and Candice Hikiji. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

The way back machine takes us to 1968, 1969 and 1970, when Tatsuhiko Hikiji won state wrestling championships while competing for Kaimuki.

He was the first boy to do it three times in Hawaii, and now his daughter, Erin Hikiji, is a freshman wrestling for Mililani. She is going for third place at 97 pounds Thursday afternoon at the Texaco/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships.

“I think she’s actually a good wrestler, yeah,” Tatsuhiko Hikiji said. “She’s learned a lot by watching and by doing and slowly she’s listening to what we have to say to her. She’s getting better and it’s starting to show. A lot more to go, but I think she’s going to get there. She is working toward certain goals and certain things she wants to do.”

He was asked to compare these days to those glory years.

“During the days when I was wrestling, the competition was a lot more mental. There used to be a lot more thinking and reasoning things out a lot more. The ability to compete and do well was a lot more technical, whereas today, it’s more of a combination of technique and physicalness. Today, they’re a lot more physical than mental.

“Coach used to try to tell me that I have to believe in myself and that was the hardest thing for me to do. I never had much confidence in myself and belief in myself that I can do things. That’s what I’m trying to get Erin to understand. She has to believe in herself in order for her to succeed.”

Erin Hikiji didn’t think she would get this far.

“I was pretty surprised with myself,” she said. “I hope (to go farther) next year. My dad has taught me a lot, the basics — and from there I’ve worked on things and he reviews my matches and stuff.

“He’s really humble. I didn’t even know about his (three state championships) until a few years after I started wrestling at age 6. My mom told me all about it.”

Erin Hikiji will wrestle Baldwin’s Liana Ferreira, the MIL champ, for third place.


  1. Richie February 21, 2019 2:11 pm

    such an awesome story and even better family in the Hikijis.

  2. Renee Hikiji Flores February 21, 2019 2:22 pm

    We believe in you, Erin! Have fun! Love, the Hikijis on the California coast!

  3. Bertram kaeo February 21, 2019 7:09 pm

    That is such an awesome story! Your dad is a awesome man, I’ve always appreciated him and the things he taught me. I wrestled for him when he was coaching at Waipahu and he was the calmest nicest coach I’ve ever had, he was the best. I love that man!!
    God bless you and give you strength in your matches and in your future endeavors.

  4. S. Marciel February 21, 2019 8:48 pm

    Tats was not only a three time champ but THE BEST wrestling refs back in the 80s when I was in high school. He also mentored many wrestlers and several wrestling coaches! Good luck Erin! The Hikiji name lives on!

  5. S. Marciel February 21, 2019 8:50 pm

    Tats was a legend as a wrestler and THE BEST Wrestling ref back in the 80s. He mentored many wrestlers as well as wrestling coaches! Best wishes, Erin! The Hikiji name lives on!

  6. Alfonso Oliver February 23, 2019 4:54 pm

    Tats is a awesome man and coach ,he taught me not only how to be a better coach but a better man. He is what coaches should strive to be like.

  7. Imua 2 February 24, 2019 3:35 am

    Tats is one of the nicest person I have even met! Best of luck Erin!

  8. Christopher Ascencio October 9, 2021 2:42 pm

    Thank you coach Tats, you helped me become the man I am today. You thought me to never give up and the meaning of hard work and I think I got better at wrestling as well again thank you so much

  9. Michael Pacheco October 28, 2021 7:46 pm

    Hello Tats wow you have a daughter following your wrestling career, she will be great because of you skills. Do you remember your me Michael Pacheco we started with cross country in kaimuki. I really miss everyone at school it was a lot of fun.

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