Creating A Knockout: Antonio Compton Shares Journey From Personal Struggles To Owning Rumble Boxing Franchise In Nashville
Gyms and fitness centers can be intimidating spaces because people feel judged about the condition of their bodies.
Antonio Compton, co-owner of Rumble Boxing Gulch in Nashville, knows all about feeling judged. Compton grew up in Evansville, IN, and attended a private, Christian college in Chattanooga, TN. During college, he married his high school sweetheart, moved back to Evansville, and had a child. As life unfolded, he began a journey of self-reflection and discovering who his authentic self was. This journey led to divorce and eventually feeling comfortable enough to come out of the closet. In the quest to live a more open and free life, Compton moved to Nashville, met his life partner Blake Baskin, and together, they now own the first Rumble Boxing franchise in the city. Compton shared with BLACK ENTERPRISE what led him to fitness, franchising, and financial freedom.
Black Enterprise: There are countless fitness franchise brands. Why did you choose Rumble Boxing?
Antonio Compton: Health and fitness have always been a passion of mine, and I was the first franchisee for another fitness brand, where I met Noah Neiman, who is one of the founders of Rumble. After seven successful years of owning and operating, we were presented with an opportunity to exit with a corporate buyout and decided to look for a new franchise to invest in. We heard about Rumble being acquired by Xponential Fitness brands, which is what led us to buy the Nashville market. We signed on to open six studios, five of which will be in the Nashville area and one in my hometown of Evansville, IN.
BE: What has your experience with Rumble Boxing been as a franchisor?
Compton: Boxing, in general, is a very accepting and diverse sport, and we feel that Rumble has done a great job of emulating that. Their values really align with who Blake and I are. We are always asking members and instructors, “What are you fighting for?” in the studio. For us, that is inclusion, diversity, and empowerment, and I feel the Rumble leadership team is also fighting for those things as they grow the brand and introduce more people to boxing for fitness. Xponential Fitness also has pretty diverse ownership across its brands, so we felt good about taking the leap with Rumble.
BE: Why is it important to empower the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities in Nashville through group fitness, and how are you achieving that?
Compton: I grew up in the urban area of Evansville with a mother who constantly battled her weight; trying to find balance in her life. Unfortunately, there were not many opportunities or resources to get into fitness, and it would have been easy to give into an unhealthy lifestyle. As I grew up, I wanted to change that narrative and bring about a safe space and opportunity for people to work on their health. I started with myself, getting into fitness and trying different workouts. Then I had the opportunity to franchise with a fitness brand, and now it’s Rumble.
As we continue opening more Rumble studios, we are very intentional about what we want our community to look like. We are always seeking out diverse trainers and staff – different colors, sizes, genders, etc. – because we want our studios to accurately represent the communities we serve. Since there can be a stigma that boutique fitness is for white, upper-class women, we work really hard to dig into and connect to all communities, especially having a presence in the Black community. That includes hiring, marketing, events, and more, and we’re hopeful to continue that with our second studio in Evansville, IN. Julien, one of our incredible Black trainers at Rumble Gulch in Nashville, is now our top trainer, showing that boxing is truly for everybody, and especially the Black community.
BE: What steps have you taken to be so successful in growing your studio to 500 members and profitability in just a few months of business?
Compton: We opened our first Rumble studio in June 2022. On top of seeking diverse trainers and members, we dive deep into our clients’ and members’ lives. That has helped us grow our membership and maintain it. People leave gyms, not relationships, we prioritize the personal connection with everyone who walks through our doors. Those people who feel seen and loved in our community end up referring other members and continue to help us grow. It might sound corny, but we really are a family – community first!
BE: One piece of advice you can give readers who are looking to start a business or a franchise but are afraid to make the leap for fear of rejection or failure?
Compton: Just do it! It’s always going to be a risk. Specifically, if you’re first to market, it’s a huge risk. However, if you have a passion, can envision it, and see it working, you can achieve it. You also must work hard. I grew up with nothing and all odds against me. Despite those odds and lots of dysfunction in my upbringing, I kept my sights set on more. And while I may not always be #1, success doesn’t necessarily mean you’re #1. You just have to be better than the person you were yesterday. Success for me is being able to change and impact people’s lives every day at the studio.