First and foremost, my heart goes out to the neighboring business that were damaged and lost. I had been at the centinela location now for 4.5 years and in that time seen my other neighbor’s business prosper and grow and we we’re all so happy and proud of each other. We seen each other show up at the very crack of dawn and we have seen each other leave well into the early mornings of night. We had a tight knit community, even though some of us didn’t get along with each other- We always looked out for each. Whether we were donating our time and effort to the local schools, or promoting each others businesses or simply supporting them by giving them our business, we stuck together.
On May 9th, the 5th year anniversary of TBI’s inception, we all saw that disappear. The air filled with a thick sense of sadness and hopelessness. Grown adults breaking down in hysterical sobs, the panic, the despair, all while we watched each others hard work go down in flames
I won’t go on too much about the details as many news outlets covered the accident. The abbreviated story is:
I receive a call from one of the members who was attending open mat. Odd. I normally never answer calls or text on sundays as i take the day to decompress completely from the work week.
‘Did you not see the text i sent? There’s a fire in at the plaza. The gym is ok but we had to evacuate. You should get down here.’
The closer i get the more phone calls from other members and people that live in the neighborhood that also train at the gym start blowing up my phone. I ascend the little hill at the end of the block and at it’s peak you can see the thick smoke plume from the the plaza.
Smoke and a fire started on the south end of the building. Perhaps at one of the restaurants.
I think ‘well- it seems contained.’
Then smoke began to billow on the north end of the building.
Firefighters bust into the gym, break as many holes in the wall.
And within a matter of 10-15 minutes the whole building including the gym is engulfed in flames.
The ceilings collapse, Firefighters blast the shit outta the fire with the water hose.
The fire rages on for what seemed like another hour until everything was soaking wet, covered in soot and smoke.
All the while the other members and I stand by and see our little home destroyed.
I didn’t know what to feel or think. I still don’t know. It feels so surreal, almost like a dream or nightmare. Like as if i’m gonna hop in my car, drive to work and see everyone’s smiling faces eager and ready to train.
In a crude attempt at humor I say:
“Well, at least i don’t have work tomorrow’
…That didn’t go over too well.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
With that in mind. Everyone’s first question was ‘Are you insured?’
Yes, and no. Some of us think ‘that’ll never happen to me’.
I was one of them. This last year i had to renew my lease. If you know the westside, west la,
It’s fucking expensive. The cost of living is so high. The lifestyle is so competitive.
With that in mind- My gym rent doubled this last year. Many of you would laugh if you found out how much i spend a month on rent. Due to non-disclosure agreement i can’t divulge what exactly I pay, but to get an idea average commercial space in the westside is anywhere from 3.75/sq ft. – 5.00/sq ft.
Naturally, i had to keep the location despite various searches for anything reasonable.
They tell you that the rent is going to be raised, sure. But they don’t tell you how to come up with the extra income. Especially with such finite space. Ok sure. That’s my obligation as a business owner.
I’m not saying any of this as a means to excuse my ignorance. I just want to shed a little light on my situation.
With that being said i was in the process of overhauling the backend of my business to accommodate for such incidents.
Too little too late.
I failed to prepare sufficient insurance. Although some of the equipment is covered, the majority is lost. Our pads, some of the members equipment, all our merchandise, mats, shoes, rowing machine. Fuck man. Everything.
Only things left standing is our weight set, kettlebells and heavy bag stands. Everything else is waterlogged, or covered in smoke or emitting a nauseating pseudo bon-fire odor.
In that i take full responsibility. I failed to prepare.
While I appreciate the sentiment of donations i’m having a hard time accepting help for something that could’ve easily been prevented.
I can’t accept the donations out of good faith and without feeling incredibly guilty.
Maybe someone can reach out and console this overtly machismo ego trip. I sure need it because i simply cannot understand it.
Now, I know it’s easy for some of you to be reading this behind your keyboard and computer screens and criticize me, but please have some empathy in regards to the situation. If not for me, but for the members of the gym or the business owners that lost their livelihoods.
First and foremost: Thank you to the brave firemen/women who helped kill the blaze-thankfully there weren’t any casualties.
The amount of support, messages, everything from all my friends, gym members the local neighborhood and the muay thai community in southern california and across the states has been overwhelming. I thank you all for everything.
Therein lies the beauty of this sport. The beauty of this art.
Many can relate or attest to this. A martial arts gym or even a muay thai gym is not a big money maker. This may even be foolish of me to say but money always came second. Sure, i do own a business and naturally everything has to be paid for in order to keep things running. When people ask me about the gym I always respond ‘As long as the rent and bills are paid, my cat is fed and my members are happy everything is copacetic man’.
What always came first was helping others. Helping people reach their goals. Providing a venue to spread the art. Our gym, our community and our family was just about that. Helping people.
Late on your gym dues or can’t afford them? Your ass better get the broom and get to sweeping. There was always a way to make things happen.
If i ever were in need of help, i know that i could count on the crew to lend a hand.
TBI is such a great, understanding community with so many talented, intelligent, and willing people and we all worked together to look out after each other.
In regards to all the damage. It’s all monetary. I always said: ‘Money can always be made, always. If you’re clever enough, resourceful enough and apply a focused work ethic, things can get done- you just gotta make it happen.’
Every little bit i made went into the gym or a savings for events like this. The last half-decade i lived a minimalistic, modest lifestyle in order to provide for the gym. Secondhand clothes, a beat down 2001 honda civic with 250k miles, Minimal vacation time- Anything to keep TBI going.
My heart hurts to see what has become. Although I do have some resources to continue it’s just a super bitter pill to swallow. My body is completely broken from all the training, pad holding and various injuries accumulated from fighting. Now it seems like i have to start over from ground zero.
My heart hurts to see all the members equipment ruined. All the hard work and money invested.
My heart hurts for all the memories lost.
Time to rebuild. I am confident enough to say that i’ll/we will bounce back from this tragedy. Some people are surprised by how easy i’m taking this. My drive and confidence is just too much to have this stop me and stand idly by feeling defeated. If i was able to fight for as long as did in the ring- this is small fries compared to that. I have to be the example i set forth to see in my own members. Hope i don’t end up eating my own words. haha!
The biggest hurdle right now is finding another location for the gym. Please be patient all as i am working day and night to get this settled.
Mind you.. This wasn’t some self-congratulatory, altruistic masturbatory pat on the back, this is a promise to all the members to get us back on our feet in no time. A little hard work, grit, dedication and good ole credit card debt we’ll be smashing each others faces in no time.
Thank you for everyone for everything… Much love always.
‘Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions.’
A good friend and gym member created a go fund me campaign. contribute if you feel so inclined: