A small crowd gathered outside The Underground Arena on SW 27 Street on Saturday just before 11am. It was fight night and a few impatient fighters peered into the windows after an unsuccessful try to open the doors.
Azteca Boxing Club owner Eric Puente opened the door as fighters filed in for weigh-ins.
Novice and open division amateur boxers from ages of 8 to 34 signed in, each hoping to get paired for a bout. Puente, who trains children 10 and under in the club, said the 20 sanctioned fights that took place that night helped boxers gain experience and served as a fundraiser for the Azteca Boxing Club, which hosted the event.
Nine-year-old Chris Barba of Edmond, along with a group of others his age, wrote his name, weight, age, and number of fights down on a index card. “I’m looking forward to winning,” said Barba who will be fighting in his first bout after training for 1 ½ months.
Chris’ journey to fight night began when he heard about boxing from a family friend. Chris asked his father, Felipe, if he would take him to the gym to watch. Felipe didn’t think it would work out. He and his family live in Edmond but Felipe drives to Norman for work. The idea of driving from his job in Norman to Edmond, and then back to south Oklahoma City 5 days a week didn’t sound like it would work.
Determined to try boxing, Chris offered gas money to a family friend to take him to the gym. After going a few times he expressed interest in the sport and Felipe decided the long drive 5 days a week was worth it.
That Saturday evening Felipe stood in the crowded arena and watched as his son was declared the winner of his first fight.