I just got a new tattoo and didn’t realize the story behind it until I had it permanently embedded into my skin…Aug 26, 2019
Back in 2012 at the age of 27, I was on the verge of retiring from boxing, the sport that I had competed in since I was 10 years old. From boxing, I had serious hand problems and it got to the point where I couldn't button a shirt, turn a key, and it was even hard to zip my trousers. It was time for major hand surgery.
At this point I was an undefeated professional boxer, having taken bronze in the Beijing Olympics just a few years earlier, winning 7 national titles and a European Gold medal. I was expected to have a promising boxing career ahead of me, but because of my injured hands, that dream ended earlier than I had anticipated.
I left school with zero qualifications, just a bunch of boxing achievements and a pretty decent self-taught business brain.
My hands after surgery
My wife and I moved to LA Jan. 2012, and as I was waiting for my hands to heal from surgery, I was thinking about how could I earn some money, as I'm sure you know LA is expensive! So, I was chipping away at my savings because the only real time I had gotten paid up until this point in my life, was by punching things aka people :)
I looked for gyms that were teaching boxing and found a basement boxing gym here in Santa Monica. I got a job straight away due to my background but was making very little, maybe $20 for 2-3 classes. At this point though, I didn’t care. I was having fun teaching and felt that I was good at something else, other than just boxing.
With Kevan back in 2012
It was at this gym where I met the lad who ran these classes, Kevan Watson from Kentucky. What I noticed about Kev from the start was he was always the 1st person in the gym and the last to leave, a great lad with a huge work ethic, and his boxing mitt work was amazing! We hit it off straight away and soon became great friends.
The gym we worked at changed management and some rules, so in June 2012, Kev and I left to start our own little Boxing Bootcamp on the Santa Monica Bluffs for donations only. Again, we were hardly making anything, but we loved what we were doing and the Bootcamp got BIG, FAST!
The 1st flyer for the Bootcamp
(Around this time, after my hand surgeries, my hands didn't recover as well as I had hoped they would, and I was forced to hang the gloves up for good and retire from the sport I had loved since I was a boy. This was once of the hardest things I'd ever done in my life. But that's a another story for a different time...)
Now, with the bootcamp flying, it was time to look for a place for a gym, and we spent hours driving the streets of LA looking for any building with a “LEASE” sign on.
We were told from one of our longest clients, Terrance, that there was a building that was being used as a Halloween store that might be a good fit. The address was 1654 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica.
We viewed it and thought, this is the place!
It was a big 4200 sqft Halloween store that was soon to be an empty warehouse. Without a second thought, I put just about all the rest of my savings from boxing down and we got the lease! In November 2012, we started teaching classes in this space. The only equipment we had was a few med balls, jump ropes, 1 agility ladder, mitts, gloves, and a huge Sony boombox.
Class in Box 'N Burn 2012
Since then what has happened in 1654 Lincoln blvd has been nothing short of amazing! Being in this life day in and day out, I often forget to remember just how far we have come from the days in the Santa Monica basement gym.
1654 has been a happy place for tens of thousands of people over the years who have come to learn how to box and have a great workout. We have had many people tell us how it has helped them in so many ways.
It has also been the home to hundreds of employees throughout the years. They have worked hard, grown in their boxing and training skills, and have had great experiences and fun while working here.
Since 2015, there have been over a thousand fitness professionals from around the world who have come to 1654 to learn how to teach boxing using our BNB methods. They take these skills back home and have started careers teaching boxing for fitness. This is having huge effects on people who have never even been in the gym!
We have sponsored trainers from other countries to work in 1654 and changed their lives for the better and now they are changing lives, it really is a snowball effect.
I've met so many amazing people since moving to USA, even now I'm meeting new people in the gym every day and I love it.
This gym Box ’N Burn at 1654 has not just had a huge impact on my life and my kids lives, but I would like to think it has made a huge impact on everyone that has walked through that big garage door entrance.
The front of Box 'N Burn gym
My new ink
I know someday the building will be gone but the memories will be there for ever…. especially now with this big arse tattoo on the back of my arm :)
Co-Owner of Box 'N Burn
This was the story, in a nutshell, I could write all day about this…
If you're into podcasts - check my Box ’N Life podcast for more crazy stories.
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