Lewis Hernandez is in awe of the newly-refurbished Hernandez Boxing Academy, which had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning to celebrate its reopening to the public less than a year after a fired gutted the gym last November.
“They were going to knock this building down,” said Hernandez, the father and trainer of professional boxer Nico Hernandez. “If it wasn’t for the community stepping up, this building wouldn’t even be here right now. This all would just be dirt. Now it’s better than ever.”
The building at 1901 N. Market is owned by the city, but it is not a city-maintained facility. Since a non-profit charity leases and maintains the building, the home gym of Olympic medalist Nico Hernandez had the responsibility to rebuild.
Nico Hernandez cut the ribbon to reopen the gym two days before his third professional fight this Saturday at Hartman Arena. The gym was formerly known as the 316 Northside Boxing Academy.
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“It’s a blessing to be able to open the gym back up and be back training here, instead of the bedroom in my house,” Nico Hernandez said. “The atmosphere is just different being here with all of the other different fighters. This was a minor setback for a major comeback. I just want to thank everyone in the community for helping us out.”
Lewis and Nico Hernandez spoke briefly at the ceremony on Thursday, thanking donors and emphasizing how important reopening the gym was for youths in north Wichita. Vice Mayor Janet Miller was among those in attendance.
“The gym has been key in the north end for quite a number of years and it was a really devastating blow when the fire occurred,” Miller said. “To have it opened and all refurbished now is a really great, happy occasion, both for the Hernandez family and also for Nico as a professional boxer.”
Lewis Hernandez says the gym is now more modern, which has allowed the gym to house more equipment.
“We’re hoping we can bring more fights here to Wichita because of this,” said Lewis Hernandez. “And we’re hoping we can build some more champions, too.”