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.
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.
We hoped you followed us last week and if you haven’t we have listed the links at the end of the page for all the previous entries of this celebration series.
In this feature, we are going to take a bit of a detour to sway from the narrative of Tom and move to the individual our last feature was focused around – Jon Judy.
Let this serve as your *Writer’s Note* – I met JJ about six-plus years ago and he played an instrumental part of my endeavors working in the media world. He was the first promoter to ever approve credentials to cover a fight and King of the Cage “Final Countdown” will always go down as one of the most memorable I have ever attended because it was my first as a member of the media.
In the years I have worked media, nobody has treated me better than JJ. I have made a lot of positive relationships in the fight game and I have met loads of awesome people, but in terms of support it is hard to say that anyone has treated me better and that is even that he never knew me previously. I will always appreciate the hustle of Jon and his charismatic personality that makes him one of the most eccentric personalities I have ever encountered.
Back to business – as the story was told by Tom in our previous entry, starting out as a competitor, Jon entered the gym and immediately made friends with the Head Coach.
“After moving here in December of 2001, I took some time off from coaching wrestling, I had previously coached wrestling at Mayfield H.S. in Las Cruces while I was completing graduate school at NMSU, and competing for the first time since I was kid. Finally towards the end of 2003, early 2004, I missed competing and decided to give MMA a try. I had been a fan of both boxing and MMA and figured with my wrestling background it would be a natural transition. So, over about a 2 week period, I would stop and visit several of the gyms in town to see what they had to offer. There weren’t really many “MMA” gyms around at the time so I stopped at some traditional martial arts schools as well, however, none of them seemed to be quite what I was looking for. It wasn’t until I was driving by a building with the words “No Holds Barred” in giant letters that I decided to stop in. I knew almost immediately after talking to the Owner, Tom, that FIT NHB was the place for me. He invited me to his practice and I was immediately hooked and that’s where it all began for me.” – Jon Judy
Such a simple beginning for such an instrumental individual – Jon would find a home once the big bold letters outside of the building caught his eye. You can definitely read into that as deep as you are capable of but I interpret that as Jon was drawn to the boldness of that painted statement. Typically, wrestlers are going to be a tough as you find in combat sports and the type of energy that radiates from FIT NHB depicts that rough and tough grinding aspect of martial arts.
“During my time here at FIT NHB, I’ve had the privilege of being coached by two of the best coaches in the world, Tom Vaughn and Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn. I’ve also had the honor of training with some of the best teammates in the world. Those opportunities have been some of the most memorable times of my life. Over the years, Tom and Arlene have become two of my closest friends. We have had our good times and are bad times over the years, but one thing I can say is that despite all the ups and downs in life, they have always supported me and stood by my side no matter what and for that I am very grateful. I have never questioned their loyalty to the gym and myself, and they will never have to question my loyalty to them and the gym.” – Jon Judy