WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita gym that was the site of a fire in November reopened to the public on Friday.
It’s back to boxing business on Wichita’s north side. The punching bags are up, the ring is set and the athletes are raring to go.
“We are just trying to open up, get the ball rolling again,” said Coach Lewis Hernandez.
Hernandez Boxing Academy, formally known as Northside Boxing Academy, opened its doors on Friday, hosting a free kids workout. It was the first public workout since a November fire damaged much of the training facility, forcing it to close.
“It was a real heartbreak,” said Hernandez. “When that happened to me, I broke down. I was like, ‘are you serious?’ Then, I seen the pictures and it reality hit me.”
The gym is home to Olympian and undefeated pro boxer Nico Hernandez. Leading up to Nico’s first two professional fights, he and his team had to train from home or at other gyms. The closure of Hernandez Boxing Academy also left many kids in Wichita with nowhere to train or pursue their boxing dreams.
“There’s a lot of free time in the summer and I just feel that kids needs to stay busy. Idle time, you know, that’s never good,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, who has trained three Olympic boxers including his son Nico, said the city and numerous volunteers have helped with the reopening, but admits there is still a lot of work to be done before the gym is fully functioning.
“Like I tell everybody, we started from nothing, so basically we’ve got bags, we’ve got this. Just starting over again, but it’s OK,” he said.
Hernandez and his team of coaches are working on getting the gym’s weight room up and running again. They are also putting in new flooring and painting the exterior of the building.
It’s unclear when the gym will reopen in its entirety, but Hernandez said he expects it to be sometime soon. His next goal is to become an Olympic boxing coach. As for Nico, Hernandez said his next fight is expected to be in September.