The following is an excerpt from Xtreme Combat, the world’s leading combat magazine. [Article originally published one year ago.]

DOWN BUT NOT OUT…

The building that occupies 241 Ridden Avenue is not a particularly pretty sight—its three-story brick exterior shows considerable age, but not out of place in a neighborhood that has also seen better days. The condition within is just as dilapidated, complete with an acrid smell of sweat and no air conditioning to alleviate the stifling heat. For many, this is part of the charm. More surprisingly, this is a place of business—but you won’t find any corporate execs or briefcase-wielding suits inside this particular building. Nestled in the heart of Pallad City’s Alka District is a nostalgic holdout that has managed to withstand both the hands of time and the ever-changing world around it.

Fit for Fight is a gym, one that’s been in business at the same location for nearly 35 years. If you’re looking to casually hit the weights once or twice per week, this is not the gym for you. Fit for Fight caters to a far more dedicated clientele. The members at this gym are committed to honing their bodies to maximum performance, and for good reason—nearly all of them are involved in combat sports ranging from competitive boxing to various mixed martial arts—and then there are those who work for private military contractors, where peak fitness can be the difference between life and death. It’s a rough crowd, but nothing the gym’s equally-rugged owner can’t handle.

The proprietor of Fit for Fight is Dario Granos, a name familiar to boxing aficionados and sport historians. Granos is no stranger to the ring. 45 years ago “Granite” Granos was a heavyweight boxer with 41 wins to his name—37 of those wins achieved by knockout. Granos held the heavyweight world championship for five years before losing it. During the championship match in which he lost his title, Granos sustained a critical head injury that cut his boxing career short and forced him into retirement from the sport.

After a failed marriage and several unsuccessful business ventures, Granos opened Fit for Fight. For almost 35 years he’s continued to run the gym and stay in business while the surrounding Alka District deteriorated from a bustling hub of storefronts and venues to a derelict slum.

Now in his early 70s, Granos still remains spry, with an ornery personality that seems to tilt more towards playful than unpleasant. His humor is deadpan and he rarely cracks a smile, but his snappy quips make it clear that the world hasn’t put a damper on his wit.

“Yeah, this area’s not what it once was,” Granos laments, shrugging. “But neither is anything else.” He goes on to tell us that, over the last few years, the gym is no longer as busy as it used to be. Memberships are down and he equates some of that with the decline of the neighborhood. We asked if he’s ever considered moving to a new location outside the Alka District…

“After 35 years?” Grano snorts before offering us what looked like the thinest of smiles. “Forget it. In a way this is good—what better place for a gym to be than in a rough area? You’ll have to fight to get here!”

Article continued in Section 4D

Danger Zone One. Story by Midnight. Art by Salaiix.