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Rumble In The Jungle

It’s Saturday morning and inside Jungle Gym Martial Arts in the Bronx, children – some as young as 4 years old – are being trained in mixed martial arts, a combat sport that combines boxing, wrestling, karate and judo. Children throw punches, jabs, kicks and place submission holds — painful arm and leg bends — on one another in sparring sessions as the gym’s ceilings rattle with every passage of the 6 train across the street.
Parents watch as instructors supervise and encourage the children who wear protective headgear.

Justin “Chim Chim” Garcia, a 34-year-old former estate planner owns Jungle Gym, a converted plumbing supply building, where
some of the Bronx’s grittiest kids can get trained in mixed martial arts, the basis for the controversial sport of the Ultimate Fighting
Championship. Even though Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts are currently banned in New York State, teaching mixed martial
arts is not illegal and Garcia believes that this increasingly popular sport is giving his students valuable life lessons. “We make them
battle physically and mentally, and in the process we teach them how to get over the humps in life,” he said.

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