When entering the gym Black Panther (TBP), the first person we identified is Omar Montes. The man from Madrid is one of the most popular artists in our country, where he was the most listened to singer on Spotify in 2020. His regular appearances in the media make him one of the most popular faces on television in Spain. He is putting on the protections on a ring, because he is preparing for a professional boxing fight.
He is not the only familiar face who is sweating in this sports center. In a separate room is the rapper jarfaiter, who also gets fit by fighting. It usually appears around the facilities Ilia Topuria, the Spanish UFC fighter with the most victories in the history of the competition. And, next to him, people like the presenter Paul Motorcycleswho has also been in the news this month for having been seriously injured: he broke his triceps precisely in a boxing match with Omar Montes.
In a corner the Spanish Olympic canoeist is warming up Christian BullOlympic gold with Saul Craviotto, who is starting his career in politics these days. And they are not all who are. Names such as ex-soccer player Fernando Torres, the boxing champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, the argentinian fighter Santiago Ponzinibbio or the youtuber DJ Mario. A daily parade of familiar faces that make TBP the benchmark sports center for celebrities.
Where do you have to go to attend the fashionable gym among celebrities? A clue in case you are looking for it in Malasaña, Pozuelo or Las Rozas: it is not that way. If you want to get to the famous gym, you have to come south and take a trip to a working-class neighborhood. Because Black Panther It is located in the heart of an industrial estate in Carabanchel.
“In the end, what is cool for people is being from the neighborhood,” he tells her Omar Montes to THE SPANISH NEWSPAPER while putting on the hard hat. He has a black eye. He practices contact sports on a daily basis, something that is not new to him. He had boxed professionally before he was known. He has a record of 80 fights and only 7 losses. And he will do it again next June in an evening that will be held on June 2 at the Cubierta de Leganés.
Now he is a star. But, things in life, the one who started pointing to this music thing was his friend Benedict Nsué. A man from Madrid of Equatorial Guinean origin who has been in a relationship for years: “Omar and I have been friends for many years. From the neighborhood, because I am from Orcasitas and he is from Pan Bendito. And when I made music, Omar was my fan.” remember now good between jokes
Time turned the tables: Omar ended up succeeding in music and Benedicto left it to dedicate himself entirely to martial arts and contact sports. He competed at a high level and ended up opening his first gym in Vallecas (called Circus Arena) with his cousin David Ondo, expert also in martial arts. They both ended up moving to carabanchel and founding The Black Panther. A business project with complicated beginnings, because it opened its doors at the end of 2019.
“We had made a strong investment, but by ourselves. Without big partners putting money in. Within a few months we already had the pandemic on us. It was very complicated,” Nsue tells us sitting in a corner of the ring. With one eye he observes how Omar warms up and with the other he controls two other students who do cardio. “We have capacity for about 1,200 students, but we have cut in 600 to be able to dedicate ourselves better“.
Omar Montes is already in the ring and hitting at the pace set by his coach. The scene is familiar. What does that ring sound like to us? It appeared a few months ago on social networks in an already iconic video. And it was exactly there that Omar Montes put the controversial youtuber Borja Escalona in his place, who publicly challenged the singer and appeared at the door of The Black Panther to demand a fight. What happened next is already internet history.
As it appears in that video, Montes humiliated Escalona with a relentless series and ended up knocking him out of the ring with a punch. Literally. “I am the one who can be heard in the background telling Omar to stop”David Ondo, the other founder of TBP and Benedicto’s cousin, tells us with a laugh. “We thought that Omar was going to have more problems, because we saw that he was a bigger guy than him. You know that weight is essential in this contact sports, but no, no. He finished it quickly.”
What is the reason why celebrities come to TBP? Omar does not deny that “whenever I can bring a character, I bring them. They are my friends, I train here… and it is always better for a gym in Carabanchel to succeed than one of cayetanos from the center of Madrid. In the end you have to come to the neighborhood, “he jokes, just after getting out of the same ring from which he flew Borja Escalona.
The owners, however, are clear: they have not used celebrities as a claim. They have not made posters or advertisements using the image of any of them. It has been the other way around: “In the end, the results that people obtain have been imposed. In this gym, what works a lot is word of mouth. And these positive references are only achieved if there are good results”.
“Equally we are known by the celebrities who pass through here, but in reality what our clients value is the seriousness in the preparation in contact sports and the results. Here they know us by Ilia (Topuria) or by Omar (Montes), but we have a lot of people who, Either they have won international championships, or they are preparing for it. Take David, for example,” says Bene.
Talk about David Hervias, one of the greatest promises that the Spanish contact sport has. A young man from Madrid who, after consulting the Tapology ranking (the reference page in the world of sports fights), leads all the rankings in which he is found. He is one of the great promises of contact sports in our country.
But not the only one in the room. Bene points to a group of people rolling on the floor doing cardio and sings: “That one, champion of Spain. That one, of Europe. That one from beyond, will fight for the continental title shortly”. And so up to twenty users who are preparing for different official tournaments in various disciplines. From regional championships (Madrid) to world titles. At the reception, among a lot of trophies, they show off their kickboxing and K1 European championship belts respectively, which have been won by TBP students.
And it is that, in terms of high competition martial arts, the TBP is perhaps the Spanish gym that has the most troops fighting at a high level: “In this type of sports, we are considered a high performance center. But you know , earning a living with this in Spain is almost impossible. In other countries, these kids that we are taking would be living well from this. But here there is not enough support for these sports. Then you see that a fight of youtubers fills a stadium, “he laments nsue.
But, beyond celebrities (on the one hand) and elite fighters (on the other), if there is something that motivates TBP members it is “people who can’t afford a gym but show us desire and work. We have met people who had nowhere to sleep and We have opened the doors of the gym for you to stay here. If we see them work hard and take it seriously, we help them,” explains Bene. Because, in the end, that’s the spirit of a gym located in a working-class neighborhood.