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Celebrating 20 Years of FIT NHB: Humble Beginnings

On May 19th, FIT NHB (Fighters In Training, No Holds Barred) celebrates their twentieth year of existence as an entity within the combat sport’s world. Not just a unique acronym, the lauded gym has been quintessential to the development and evolution of mixed martial arts in the State of New Mexico and the Southwest region.

Photo: Front entrance and training floor for the second location of FIT NHB.

When FIT NHB announced via social media that they’d be celebrating their 20th year, it piqued the interest of us here at Southwest Fight News to become fans for a while and take a drive down memory lane to commemorate FIT NHB as experienced by the individual who stood at ground zero building the gym from the first brick – Head Coach and Co-Owner Tom Vaughn.

Catch up first with Sunday’s posting about “The Beginning (click here)”. And yesterday’s content about the gym’s “First Best Guy”.

FIT NHB is full of history, that should come as no surprise after hosting 20-years of combat within the confines of Tom and Arlene’s training regiments. After finding some success in their first year of training fighters, Tom and Arlene would experience a major obstacle in their drive to continue running a successful gym.

Photo: A full class in the new FIT NHB gym, found by Arlene a year after they began training fighters.

The duo was blessed to have a connection that allowed them to have a spot to train but they would find themselves on the wrong end of a business decision concerning their location.

“After being in our first location on Coors/I-40 for about a year the building was sold to Home Depot. Arlene spotted a vacant spot on 12th and I-40 in the same strip as The Walgreens and the Indoor Mercado. Luck would have it our long time employer at the night club (Vince Johnson) knew the owner of the spot and he got the guy to work with us on price. We were super stoked because it was much larger and in a great location. You could see our building from the freeway!” – Tom Vaughn

Just like that, a bit of back luck led right to a great opportunity to expand their efforts. The new opportunity led to a huge space that would allow for more students, more elbow room, and in the end found themselves in a bright situation going forward.

Photo: A television in the pro shop/office in the new FIT NHB location.

“Ar and I moved out of our house and created a little efficiency apartment in the back room of the school so we could make the rent easier. The apartment wasn’t very big but the gym WAS, so we made it work . We had more mat space, room for a boxing ring, more heavy bags, and an office/pro shop.” – Tom Vaughn

FIT NHB had momentum. They had made it an entire year and then found themselves a large location. Tom and Arlene had the tires in full motion and they were about to go from little known gym to a legitimate fight team with some of the most talented fighters competing in the Southwest area.

“We were getting more students and our first competitors began to emerge . Things were really starting to happen for us.” – Tom Vaughn

About Phillip Lujan

Phillip Lujan is one of the lead contributors and a featured writer for SWFight.com. Specializing in MMA breakdowns and analysis, Phillip is considered the MMA aficionado on staff. With nearly ten years of experience in combat sports, gazing through the eyes perceptively as a fan and a cornerman and from fight manager to analyst. He can be reached on twitter at @KingStark24 or through email at marcello.lujan@gmail.com.