UPDATE 9/25/17 - Nikki Burleson and her youth boxers from Rival Boxing Gym OKC are back in the ring.
Remember, they had no venue and half of their money was gone.
Their fundraiser was on the verge of being cancelled after the state shut down their venue, Ramada OKC Hotel near Bricktown, for unpaid taxes, leaving the boxing gym scrambling to find a venue and their deposit.
That’s when the In Your Corner team started bobbing, weaving and turning up the pressure on the hotel.
Less than 24 hours later, the hotel returned the gym's nearly $1,200.
“That quickly, very shocked,” Burleson said. “Like I said, I don't think it would have happened without your guys' support and the research you did.”
More importantly, the show will go on.
“As soon as your story aired, my phone started ringing off the hook,” Nikki said.
Mary Sapp didn't see the story, but her fiance, Dana Doonkeen from Doonkeen Performance Systems, was watching.
“And, he said, ‘Look, we gotta do something,'’” Mary said.
Dana is a mixed martial arts instructor and grew up in a boxing family, deaf since the age of 4.
“When I was a juvenile delinquent, I had a judge who was my legal guardian until I was 18 years old and I've never been in trouble since,” he said.
Now, Dana is giving back, working with youth at Onpoint Hoops Player Development & Prep Academy in El Reno, a second chance programs for kids.
Onpoint Hoops is the brainchild of El Reno native and professional basketball player, Coach Jonathan Reed.
“The vision was to help people, help youth and get ‘em on the path to be successful in life.”
Now, Reed wants to offer up his gymnasium to the youth boxers for their main event Saturday.
“Just the cause, that's what it comes down to,” he said. “When she started telling me that, I was like, ‘Oh, I'm all in.”
Their fundraiser, The Rise of an Empire III, is scheduled for Saturday at the former OnPoint Hoops Gymnasium, the former Booker T. Washington School.
Purchase tickets through Rival Boxing Gym OKC by calling 405-570-2617.
- $10 Pre-Sale Tickets
- $15 At the Door
- $30 Reserved Seats
- $300 Tables
OKLAHOMA CITY - No one messes with boxing professional and trainer Nikki Burleson's kids.
“This is their one time to perform and shine in front of their friends and family,” she said.
Burleson owns a local gym that helps get kids off the street and gives them a supportive place to grow.
“My heart sunk down into my stomach because I knew we had already paid,” Nikki said. “I know how much this means to the kids and our boxing community.”
The hotel shut down without notice.
It’s a troubled property that's been on our radar for some time now, formerly the Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center.
The previous owner ran the hotel into the ground.
Now, the state said the new owner group owes it in excess of $70,000 for unpaid sales tax.
Oklahoma Tax Commission spokesperson Paula Ross said, “Two months ago, we gave them a 30-day notice that they had to get in a payout plan or make the payment, and then we've given them several other additional weeks, time and they didn't, so we had to do a close order.”
Tuesday, there was no sign of management or the gym's $1,200 deposit.
Many of the kids are depending on the fundraiser to make their dreams of making the U.S. National Boxing Team come true.
“If we don't raise the money, that's their year pretty much gone of traveling and being able to go compete at these tournaments out of state where they can their points to make the us team,” Nikki said.
So, here we are, two weeks out, fliers have been made, tickets and tables sold, and dozens of fighters and their families from out-of-state are on their way to OKC expecting the show to go on.
On the ropes but not out, the kids are tough.
The In Your Corner team is ready to go toe to toe for them.
We got a member of the hotel staff on the phone, who told us he had no idea about the unpaid taxes.
He assured us a full refund is on the way within the next 24 hours.
We'll keep you posted on the refund.
We're in the process of helping the gym to find a new venue for the fundraiser.