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‘Guns Down, Squabble Up:’ L.A.’s Underground Fight Club Continues to Provide Gang Members An Alternative to Squashing Beef

9:53 AM PDT on June 4, 2021

    [dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]ver the Memorial Day weekend, Backyard Squabbles hosted their main event, “BYS5” – eight fights in total with music, a barber, snacks, food, drinks, and even a dance-off. Fighters showcased a wide variety of fighting styles, including MMA and boxing. A couple of hundred spectators shuffled in and out of the event throughout the day, which provided hard-hitting entertainment from the late afternoon into early Sunday evening.

    Fighting under the motto "guns down, squabble up," promoters DGoot and Josh Brito give fighters a space to settle disputes outside the streets. In one of the fights, dubbed a “beef fight,” we saw two men resolve their problem in the ring instead of in the streets, which often has deadly consequences. 

    Josh tells L.A. TACO, “At this point, we are trying to create a platform for fighters to grow. Whether they take it to the next level or just bring it in the ring to squash beef.” Gun violence has increased significantly over the first half of 2021. Backyard Squabbles hopes to give Los Angeles residents a way to settle disputes without bringing a gun into the equation. “Our group offers an alternative to gun violence in our communities. Put the guns away, live to fight another day,” Josh continues.

    For promoter DGoot, gun violence has impacted his immediate family, and he too hopes that providing this platform for his community will give them another way to settle their differences. “I push this every day because we need it out here on the west coast. There is a lot of gun violence and gang violence, and I feel like this platform could help many people stay busy; my uncle was gunned due to gang violence, passed away, and was named after him. This is why I push “guns down, squabble up” every day.”

    Backyard Squabbles provides the perfect setting for fighters who are just starting to get an in-the-ring experience that is hard to find anywhere else. More traditional avenues for fighters to move up the ranks, like AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) boxing, are very exclusive and make it next-to-impossible for younger, more inexperienced fighters to get exposure. 

    One of the trainers who came out on Sunday, Dave Shaver, offered his take: “The AAU is kind of a closed society (AAU). When I was just starting out, it was hard to get into those tournaments, and there was a lot of funny stuff going on. People didn’t want to match against certain people, or they wanted their fighters to look really good because they were hoping to make some money off of them. But Backyard Squabbles is really great because it gives these guys an opportunity to learn, and they’re really excited about it. And as you can tell, the attitude is great.” 

    The respect between the fighters and the positive atmosphere provides a safe space for fighters to showcase their skills. With little to no resources to gain exposure outside of the conventional forums, Backyard Squabbles is looking to grow along with the talent of the fighters who take part in their events.

    Two fighters prepare for a fight.
    All photos by Kemal Cilengir for L.A. TACO.
    There was onsite barbering for spectators.
    There was onsite barbering for spectators.
    A fighter is pinned on corner of the ring.
    A fighter is pinned on corner of the ring.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters prepare for a fight.
    A fighter poses for the camera.
    A fighter poses for the camera.
    Two fighters and their shadows in the ring.
    Two fighters and their shadows in the ring.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    A fighter poses for the camera.
    A fighter poses for the camera.
    Two fighters prepare to fight.
    Two fighters prepare to fight.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Backyard Squabbles sets up in an undisclosed backyard.
    Backyard Squabbles sets up in an undisclosed backyard.
    Fighters practice good sportsmanship while fighting.
    Fighters practice good sportsmanship while fighting.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    There was also a dance off in between matches.
    There was also a dance-off in between matches.
    There was also a dance off in between matches.
    There was also a dance-off in between matches.
    A fighter is victorious over his opponent.
    A fighter is victorious over his opponent.
    A fighter poses for the camera.
    A fighter poses for the camera.
    Fighters embrace before and after a match.
    Fighters embrace before and after a match.
    A fighter is knocked out during a match.
    A fighter is knocked out during a match.
    A trainer stands by his fighter's side.
    A trainer stands by his fighter's side.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Two fighters in the middle of a match.
    Pets are also welcome at Backyard Squabble.
    Pets are also welcome at Backyard Squabble.

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