A BUSINESSMAN – barred from his favourite gym – missed it so much, he bought it.
Les Ojugbana is now at the helm of half-a-million pound Fitness 2000 in Roker – meaning he can go whenever he wants.
The former MMA fighter couldn’t find any suitable replacement facilities when he was banned from the gym after a dispute with the previous leaseholder.
So when he found out it was for sale, he outbid a developer who wanted to turn the Sunderland site – which has been the training ground for world-renowned fighters and bodybuilders – into flats.
“It would have been a huge miss if the city had lost this gym,” the businessman, from Ashbrooke, told the Echo.
“I’d trained here pretty much every day for 10 years.
“I was barred for eight weeks before I bought it and I couldn’t find any other facilities like this.
“It has specific sections for MMA, boxing and bodybuilding.
“Some of the best fighters in the business train here.”
Among those who train at the gym are UFC star Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson, from Fence Houses, who won The Ultimate Fighter TV show; professional MMA fighters Phil De Fries, Colin Fletcher and Curt Warburton as well as Craig Don, a finalist in this year’s Mr Britain contest; and celebrated bodybuilders Shaun-Joseph Tavernier, who competes in Mr Olympia, and Kurt Le Quesne.
Les, who was a five times British middleweight and welterweight champion during his fighting days, says he wants to build on the gym’s success in spawning championship level sportsmen and women.
“We’re going to have an ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) club affiliated here and we’ve got a number of ladies fitness classes lined up, as well as having the equipment repaired,” said Les who runs Gbana Security, which mans the doors at a host of city centre pubs.
Among those taking advantage of the gym’s facilities is MMA fighter Andrew Fisher.
The 28-year-old, from Thorney Close, has made it to the final eight of the Bellator championships in America.
Next week he will get on a plane for the first time in his life to fly to a special fight camp in Arizona, ahead of the tournament.
“I’ve gone from fighting for pennies to being contracted to fight on the world stage,” he said.
“I teach MMA at Fitness 2000, as well as training here, so it will be strange to be training in Arizona.
“This gym has been the training ground for so many successful fighters.
“Ross Pearson really opened the door and I think we all feed off each other.”
l Any businesses interested in sponsoring Andrew can contact Fitness 2000 on 564 1188.