Guty Villa could probably have been content to continue his work as the owner of G’s to Gent’s Barbershop in Kennewick.
He’s been happily cutting hair and running the shop for seven years now. It’s a thriving store with lots of customers and barbers.
He also has a big family.
But something was missing: boxing.
“I love everything about boxing,” Villa said. “From the moment you put on the hand wraps, the gloves and the helmet, then you are a boxer. But boxing is more than fighting. You have to use your brain. You need to know why you think you are throwing that punch.
For years, Villa and his longtime pals Jose Limon and Orlando Retana had talked about starting their own boxing gym.
But it was only last year that the dream came true.
Villa has a client named Brandon Wilson, who for years was a linebacker and defensive lineman for the Tri-Cities Fever indoor football team.
“Brandon said ‘I would love to box,'” Villa said. “I told him about a year and a half ago that I would like to own a gymnasium. So he gave me space.
Wilson and his wife own a gym called Mission Accomplish Fitness, and the couple made room for Mano A Mano Boxing Club, which opened on June 1 with its first class.
It took Villa around 60 days to get going after doing all the paperwork and buying boxing gear like bags and timers.
Two months on, Villa says he thinks their expectations have already been exceeded.
“On June 1, we started with a class for 15 people, and we filled that class in two weeks,” he said. “We started our first class in June without children.”
Villa said they continue to receive requests from parents to allow children 8 and older to box.
“Now in July we have two classes and we’ve started taking kids as young as 8 – which is the youngest you can get in the gym,” Villa said.
The gym currently has 22 boxers of all ages and genders training in the gym.
Classes are held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday. For the moment.
“José has a 9-to-5 job. I have the hair salon,” Villa said. “I haven’t told him yet, but my goal for (Jose) is that I would like him to be able to retire (and run the gym). He’s better than me with training.
But they can both do it.
“We’ve had this dream for so long,” Villa said. “The only thing that changed from day one when (the boxers) arrived was ‘Now what are we going to do?’ Now we have a program in place. We like to develop on the fly. We assess boxers and then set them up with a program. Everyone is different.”
For adults 18 and older, it costs $175 per month to be a member.
“Brandon gives them a key to 24-hour access to MA Fitness,” Villa said.
The cost for boxers under 18 is $150 per month. Because they’re underage, they can’t be in the gym unsupervised, so they don’t get a key.
Villa and Limon (Retana is no longer with the gym) want to train boxers of all ages for tournaments, like the Golden Gloves. Recently, they took a group of boxers to a Yakima gym to train with their boxers.
“We want to create professionals,” Villa said. “At least educate them enough to take them to the next level. We have children in difficulty. Boxing attracts them. But it’s a place where they can open up in some way. They can bring out their aggression. Boxing teaches self-control and discipline.
But Mano A Mano has rules for boxing, Villa said.
“When we train someone for a fight there are two key things: make sure the boxer is safe and respect that you are representing us,” he said.
Whether it’s running a hair salon or a boxing gym, Villa said it’s all about customer service.
“When I run the barber shop I always meet so many people,” the 31-year-old said. “And similar in how I can transform their look as a barber, boxing transforms them as a whole.”
Now, with the barber shop, his family and the boxing gym, Villa’s days don’t stop. He wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I love my life. It’s like I’m never going to work.
Mano A Mano Boxing Club: 5601 W. Clearwater, Suite 107, in Kennewick; 509-607-8447; Facebook @ManoAManoBoxing.