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Welcome to ‘Backyard Squabbles,’ South L.A.’s Underground Fight Club That Grew Out of Pandemic Frustration

[dropcap size=big]U[/dropcap]nder an unseasonably warm South Los Angeles winter sun, amateur boxers, and MMA fighters line up to be let into a modest home where they will test their skills and determination. Some jump rope, some bring their friends and personal trainers to help them warm up, and others just focus on settling their nerves as they get ready to step in a backyard ring and defend themselves in front of an audience with everything they’ve got.  

Welcome to Backyard Squabbles, an underground amateur fighting club in Los Angeles that promotes the “Best Fights in Los Angeles.” This is their DIY “Mixer” showcase. Most of the fighters were there for the first time and should they prove themselves worthy, they would get a shot at "BYS4," (and becoming the next Kimbo Slice) the main event in the coming months. 

The Instagram account has gained a large following over the pandemic with over 20 thousand followers by putting on fights in Los Angeles homes’ backyards. Taking a page from outdoor fights and backyard parties he saw on YouTube, founder DGoot tells L.A. Taco, “We have a lot of hidden gems and talent here on the west coast, and I just wanted to bring that onto the map.”  DGoot added, “These fighters are here for exposure, you’re going to see a lot of knockouts.”  

With the pandemic still in full swing, these fighters are willing to take a risk looking for any outlet they can find. “You can only play video games for so long,” said Garcia, a young boxer fighting today for the first time. “Boxing and fighting gives these guys and everyone here a way to stay healthy, both mentally and physically,” Garcia continued. 

The event is organized with a full-sized ring, a weigh-in, and referees providing as legitimate of a setting for amateur fighters as they can.  A small group of supporters is allowed to cheer them on. 

When asked about the risks involved in participating in a group event like this during the pandemic, Valinda Hernandez, the only female fighter, thinks the event acting as a much-needed outlet for mental health outweighs the COVID risks.  “There are people with depression. They don’t have people to talk to. We’re all going through the same thing and can come together. Instead of getting in trouble, instead of doing something stupid, this is something productive.”  

Unfortunately, Garcia would fall to a 0-1 record to start his BYS career while no opponent was willing to go against Hernandez.

Admiration in the streets of South Los Angeles is what’s on the line at these fights. In the end, some fighters are victorious, some leave with bruises and bruised egos, but everyone goes home with mutual respect from fighter to fighter. 

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