Today is the day – 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.
When FIT NHB announced via social media that they’d be celebrating their 20th year, it piqued the interest of 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. We went through chapter after chapter of how it all came to be and speaking personally, it has been nothing short of incredible to learn the behind-the-scenes history of a gym so pivotal to where the local fight game is today.
In our last entry before the event starts today, we wanted to put the celebration on a brief hold to spend some time remembering key figures from FIT NHB that have been lost along the way.
“This post is dedicated to the people we’ve lost over the years. We will keep them in our hearts. Gone but not forgotten.” – Tom Vaughn
Heather Rae Rose (May 7 , 1990 – Dec 21 , 2009) – We didn’t have a kid’s class at our first school but we had a few kids that trained with us. Heather was one of our very first. One of the things I remember is she was physically strong and could do more push ups than the boys. After our daughter was born Heather went on the road with us to be Jessie’s babysitter during the fights. She was a really sweet kid and our daughter loved her. Jessie couldn’t say Heather so she called her “my heddy” .We were deeply saddened to hear of Heather’s passing.
Mike Maestas (March 18 , 1985 – July 9 , 2009) Mike was already a champion and on his way to doing big things. Liked, respected, and missed by everyone who knew him.
Alan Gomez (May 10 , 2011) – Alan was one the nicest kids you will ever meet and one of the fiercest competitors you’ll ever find. Alan never lost a fight. His highlight win would have to be when he fought on the Strikeforce event in Denver, CO. Alan was just getting started in his life and left way too soon. I would have liked to seen him grow into himself. Alan could have been anything he wanted to be.
Justin Galaviz ( April 5 , 2013) – Every time Justin walked into our gym my day got better. He had a smile and an energy that always put me in a better mood and he was full of tomfoolery. The kind of guy that gets you kicked out of class for laughing . Justin didn’t compete in MMA but he could grapple his ass off. He competed in tournaments and I used him often as a grappling partner for competitors that had fights coming up. He was that good.
Sean Roddy (June 19 , 1972 – May 29 , 2013) – Sean was actually a training partner of mine many years ago and then fought for our team a while in the early days. He also worked for me at the nightclub. I never saw Sean lose a fight in or our of the cage. He was a good man with a big heart. Sean helped his mother raise his brothers and always did his best to mentor them and keep them in line. I used to wonder if Sean ever found time for himself. I hope he did.
Nathan Torrez (August 2, 1980 – February 14 , 2016) – During Nathan’s heyday at our gym the team had a tight knit circle of friends and Nathan was in the center of it. Needless to say we were all stunned by his abrupt passing. His funeral service wasn’t in a church, it was held at the Albuquerque Garden Center and the room was completely packed. Instead of a long sermon they passed the microphone around and let people say whatever they wanted. Some told stories about growing up with Nate, some talked about how they met him, some said what Nate meant to them, etc. In the end it was clear that Nathan Torrez had friends from all walks of life and he was loved by many.