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The Story of a True Contender

Jon Snyder

Posted on March 08 2019

(And The Legend Of The Rocky 2 Boxer Briefs)

Contenders is all about the fight. The Struggle. The Will to Win. Wearing “Don’t Quit” on our heart and sleeve and carrying it into everything we do. At Contenders, we look for ways to support our Contenders friends as they take the fight to the real world.  We did it with our Everyday Contenders give-back program where we give a portion of the sale proceeds to various causes and now we are doing it with the launch of Contenders Fight Club.

As a lot of our friends are fighters, it was natural to create a program to sponsor fighters - boxers, MMAers, bare knucklers - who embody the spirit of the Contenders brand.  

And so we are proud to announce that professional boxer, Francisco ‘Chia’ Santana is the first official member of Contenders Fight Club.  Chia is the type of dude we’re all about here at Contenders and we’d like to tell you a little more about him and his amazing story.

The Santa Barbara, California native has seemingly been overcoming obstacles his whole life.

Suffering from a severe stuttering condition as a young boy, he was relentlessly teased and bullied because of it. In fact, one of the reasons he got into boxing was to defend himself against bullies.

He spent years working to overcome his stutter and pursue his dream of becoming a professional fighter. He started his pro career with no fanfare or attention and was instantly thrown into tough fights and expected to lose.

However, Chia seemed to perform his best when he was given no shot. Scoring upsets over hot prospects like Eddie Gomez and Kendall Mena, Chia worked his way up the ranks and defied all odds and got a shot on HBO fighting at Madison Square Garden as the co-main event to the heavyweight championship of the world in a title eliminator.

Despite a close fight, Chia came up short but once again the sport wrote him off as just not being capable of beating the elite fighters.  Working full-time with a young family to support it looked like Chia’s career had come to an end.

However, Chia simply refused to give up on his dreams and quit.

Despite not being able to find a fight, he continued to train until opportunity knocked again.

Last year, Chia pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year defeating Feliz Diaz, an Olympic Gold Medalist and the huge win suddenly landed Chia into the world rankings.

And that’s where Contenders enters the story. When Chia weighed in for the fight, he decided to pay tribute to his favorite movie ever… Rocky 2.

Chia wore Contenders Rocky 2 boxer briefs at the weigh in for good luck and other fighters took notice. It’s since started an actual movement in the boxing world with fighters wearing our Rocky 2 boxer briefs at weigh-ins and get this… no one has lost wearing them.

And the Rocky 2 boxer brief good luck charm Chia started has literally gone to a place that we here at Contenders could never have seen coming.

Last month, Andrew ‘El Chango’ Cancio, a 15-1 underdog pulled off what will no doubt be the upset of the year in boxing when he knocked out undefeated WBA Super Featherweight Champion, Albert Machado.

We had a gut feeling about Cancio, a single father of two who works by day for the Southern California Gas Company and was on the frontlines of the recovery effort for the deadly mudslides in Montecito last year.

Cancio had almost retired after a brutal loss a few years ago but like a true Contender he decided to keep moving forward despite the long odds against him.

After grinding out two upset victories, Cancio was given the opportunity of a lifetime to fight for a world title. Cancio, who had worn Contenders boxer briefs at the weigh in for his last fight, couldn’t find an apparel company sponsor due to the long odds against him. But, we here at Contenders are all about the underdog and we saw something special in him enough to sponsor Andrew in this fight.

Well…he wore the Rocky 2 boxer briefs at the weigh in and the rest is literally boxing history. Cancio is literally one of the hottest fighters in the sport, an overnight star.

So, now Contenders is proud and honored to be able to play a small role in Chia’s remarkable journey when he has the biggest opportunity of his career when he fights on national television this Saturday night.  

Chia will be in the co-main event of the WBC Welterweight World Championship Fight between Shawn Porter and Yordenis Ugas on Fox as part of its prime-time boxing series, Premier Boxing Champions. The fight will be live from Carson, California on Fox at 5pm (pacific) / 8pm (eastern).

Chia is a tough and relentless fighter. He has a fight anyone, anytime, anywhere mentality.  And, as a result, he is highly respected by the boxing community and a fan favorite. He also juggles a full-time job and a family life. And, most importantly to us, he’s genuinely a nice guy. To give you an idea of the man he is, he speaks to area elementary schools and shares his own story of growing up an outcast. He’s a total Contender.  Chia said this about his life and dream of becoming a champion in this sport:

“I go to work all day with an hour commute back and forth. I hit the gym at night. I spend what little time I have left with my family. Then I go to sleep exhausted. I haven’t caught many breaks in this sport but I still haven’t given up on my dream of being a world champion. In life or in boxing, my motto is train, fight, win. I think that’s something everyone can relate to.”

Train. Fight. Win.  That’s what Contenders do.  But, it is not always easy. Chia now faces yet another tough opponent on Saturday in Abel Ramos and like Chia, Abel is an aggressive fighter who understands this is a massive opportunity.

It’s going to make for an amazing fight but, our money is on the only true Contender. He’ll be the one rocking Contenders gear on national TV in primetime.  So please turn on the TV or even come out and support our first ever Fight Club member Francisco ‘Chia’ Santana this Saturday, March 9th on FOX.

We look forward to introducing to more members of our Fight Club and sharing their stories in the coming months. Inspirational men and women who in the ring and in life... #dontquit.

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