KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Sports like boxing will never disappear. That is the message of Contenders Gym in Kennewick. The gym has been a staple in the Kennewick community for nearly two decades. For the fighters that go, it is like a second home.
"When I first started I wasn't sure how it was going to go and as I got into it, a year into it, I realized that I absolutely fell in love with it," boxer Josh Hayden said.
The recent growth of mixed martial arts has added a new wrinkle to the boxing gym. They now offer MMA classes and training.
"It's one of those things that when you start you first don't like it because it's so hard and the discipline it takes. After a while your body starts getting used to it and the more you do it the more you fall in love with the sport," MMA fighter Tony Solis said.
You do not need to try and become a professional fighter to attend. Contenders encourages anyone who just wants to get in the ring to come on down.
"What we'd like to be able to just give everybody in the community the opportunity to at least try boxing, at least try MMA. For those that always thought boy how nice would it be to just try it, it's always been my dream, walk in the door," said Tony Valdez, the owner of the gym.
Contenders recently hosted the boxing District Tournament for the Junior Olympics, as the gym continues to gain prominence.
As the gym continues to grow and offer MMA, kick boxing, jiu jitsu and boxing, the next step in Contender's growth will be this - they hope to start adding four professional boxing fights every year.