SAN DIEGO — David Barragan spends nearly every waking moment at the House of Boxing in the Paradise Hills neighborhood.
Either he’s training kids and teaching them how to box, or he’s training himself, with his father, Carlos, as he begins his own pro career.
The 22-year-old opened the gym one year ago following his father and grandfather in the family business.
“They started a gym in their backyard,” Barragan said. “I decided to come up with the idea of doing boxing for the community here. Paradise Hills is a small community in itself. So, we just wanted to do something for this community.”
Barragan teaches students of all ages, starting as young as seven.
“I think he`s done it a lot and I appreciate it,” said 16-year-old Fernando Julian Munoz. “He gives everybody a house. As you can see here, the gym is almost full and it`s just a good vibe you feel. It`s just like you`re right at home.”
Barragan’s dream of opening his gym and becoming a pro boxer almost never happened. In 2006, he and his father were hit by a drunk driver. David suffered a severe back injury and did not know whether he could box again.
“When we go to the hospital, the physician wanted to fuse his back together,” said Carlos Barragan. “But, he would never play another sport for the rest of his life. There was a doctor at UCSD that says, ‘You know what? We’re going to let the back try and heal itself.’ And, it healed itself.”
“He was in a back brace for over four months. With therapy, within a year, year and a half, through therapy and hard work, he was given the green light to come and box again,” Carlos said.
“Boxing, it mirrors life,” Carlos continued. “You can get knocked down. You can stay there and you can whimper and you can whine. Or, you can get your butt up, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, put your mouthpiece back in and go fight again. So, that`s what David did.”
David used settlement money from the accident to help fund his gym and his college education – he also takes classes at Southwestern College in pursuit of a business degree.
As for his pro career: he has won his first three fights at 154 pounds, two by knockout and he believes he can set a good example in his community.
“Now, my goal is to become World Champion,” Barragan said. “And hopefully inspire a lot of younger kids that have the same dreams as me.”