Undisputed, a San Diego boxing gym, recently moved from North Park to City Heights and has taken off, challenging and preparing kids and adults alike for physical, mental and strength core training. Although the move to City Heights was not sought out, it has opened doors for troubled youth to find solace in the padded floors and boxing rings of Undisputed. Because of the naturally rougher financial status of the neighborhood, compared to North Park, young kids do not have as many options for recreational activities, much less actual facilities for exercise. Without activities to entertain them, sometimes kids will pick fights after school and some bad decisions eventually evolve them into bullies. This gives those who are bullied extra motivation to attend Undisputed, to learn how to defend themselves. Undisputed filled the need, in City Heights, for a positive energy hub for young people, in order to keep local youth out of trouble.
“I like the City Heights location better than North Park. I feel like we are making a bigger impact in kid’s lives, because this is what they look forward to doing when they get out of school. This is like their Disneyland; they really didn’t have much in this neighborhood. I consider our gym a diamond in the rough,” expressed David Ventura Jr., founder and trainer of Undisputed.
For good reason, Undisputed has become a safe haven: a place where kids can come, be themselves, feel a part of something and blow off steam. The goals of gym align with wanting to combat the negative vibes kids have with encouragement and proper training. By empowering youth to protect themselves, they are given knowledge of how to react in scary situations, and therefore have confidence in themselves as well as their ever-changing environment. Instead of walking through the night full of fear and timid behavior, students of Undisputed walk courageously with their heads up high, unafraid.
“A martial artist once told me, ‘I teach woman and man what every woman and man wants: to fear no man. We do this by teaching them that it is not that difficult to learn how to defend yourself, but even more importantly to not be a bully to others,” Ventura said.
Undisputed deals with both ends of the stick: kids who are bullies and those being bullied. The gym does not train children to fight and become bullies but tries to combat this aggressive behavior into a training that is more contained and realistic.
“The kids that are rougher around the edges are really attracted to the gym. The gym brings out the best in them, and then they realize they aren’t as tough as they think they are: being humbled is an important part of the process,” revealed Ventura.
This happens once they realize there are more advanced, practiced warriors that can really do damage, but choose not to. This causes bullies to slow down, take a more realistic perspective of their ability and reduce their unnecessary roughness.
“We will not empower youth to become bullies and if we sense that, we will not deal with them, but 99 out of 100 times it starts to change the bully’s outlook and transforms them into a protector,” said Ventura proudly.
The overall gym covers training in boxing, muay thai, mixed martial arts and jiu jitsu, but students classes focus on boxing and muay thai with special emphasis on . There is a lil’ one’s class which has age ranges from three to five, while the teen classes is anyone from 13 to 17. All skill levels are thrown together in one class, and therefore encourage students to meet new friends, as well as experience different, more advanced techniques as they watch their superior peers. This idea also allows kids to stay motivated by paired partnership with similar skill levels, leading to challenges and healthy competition. These classes teach empowerment through hand eye coordination, rhythm, timing, improvement in motor skills, physical fitness and stronger core. Although 90% of the gym trains for fitness, as opposed to professional fighting, members of Undisputed would be ready if something were to unexpectedly occur.
“We want to teach kids fitness, while getting in shape but with the proper technique. We want them to learn, have fun and not get beat up; The number one motivation in dealing with the kids is to change their outlook on life,” said Ventura.
David Ventura, founder of Undisputed, had his life changed for the better through his experience at a local gym when he was a child. Ventura grew up in southeast San Diego and originally would go to the gym to defend himself, but more importantly how to defend his four sisters, if a sudden threat rose. People in that neighborhood would either join a gang for protection or learn the hard way: self-defense. Attending a grungy basement gym for most of his youth, he often considered opening a gym when he was older to help other kids learn these basic, but necessary skills to survive in rougher neighborhoods. The gym was so nitty gritty you would not find females there, not even to watch their brothers, boyfriends, dads or husbands train.
“I would come home from training and my sisters would always jump on me and ask ‘what did you learn today?’ I would show them, and then I thought to myself, ‘Man, where would a girl go and learn self defense?’ So that is where I came up with the concept of opening up a gym.
Through the inclusion of everybody, Ventura tries hard to make his gym feel more than a boxing gym by treating members like family. With four sisters, Ventura knew that cleanliness is a big factor that gets people, especially women, into the gym. Therefore, he spent extra time making the bathroom and shower sectors clean and established for everyone to use. In addition, friendliness keeps members coming back again and again. Undisputed employees often plan fun, family oriented events such as a bounce house for kids and a barbecue to show members that it is not stressful or a hassle to have a fitness based lifestyle. Undisclosed operates on a “hi and bye” mentality, meaning everyone gets a greeting whether they are coming or going, increasing member’s feelings of being known. With positive, encouraging employees newcomers feel exceptionally welcome on their first day to the gym, making the experience of entering a boxing gym less intimidating than it needs to be.
“If you hire happy people, they rub off onto the employees. Who you put behind the counter depicts the energy level of the whole gym. We try to make it comfortable to walk in the door. Our friendliness isn’t always what you expect from a fight gym,” said Ventura happily.
With almost twenty years in the industry, and eleven years with the official Undisputed name, David Ventura Jr. has created a reputation as San Diego’s neighborhood boxing and muay thai gym. There is another location in downtown San Diego, but the City Heights location, which has only been open for one year, has the biggest number of kids attending classes that Ventura has ever seen in his career. Not only is Undisputed training for physical fitness, but for mental and physical assuredness within individuals as well. Undisputed City Heights is located at 4145 University Avenue and continues to grow, shape and teach people of all ages their capabilities while making a positive impact on the community that surrounds it.