THE new 5th Street Gym is carrying on the rich boxing history established there in 1950 by the famed Dundee brothers, Chris and Angelo.
Known throughout boxing as the world’s most famous gym, 5th Street Gym became a major attraction for boxers, international celebrities and tourists alike, originally due to presence of a rising star training there, Cassius Clay, who, of course, went on to become The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
Hall of Famers and future inductees have trained at 5th Street Gym over the years, including Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Carmen Basilio, Archie Moore, Willie Pep, Roberto Duran, Lennox Lewis, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Jr. and so many other ring greats.
Others who have been part of the 5th St. Gym experience are actor Matt Damon and comedian Dave Chappelle, in addition to elite athletes such as Cleveland Cavaliers superstar Lebron James, Green Bay Packers future Hall-of-Famer Julius Peppers and former UFC great George St. Pierre. 5th St. Gym’s history also includes legendary celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Jackie Gleason.
5th St. Gym fell on hard times at one point but a revitalization started in 2009, thanks to new owners Tom Tsatas and Dino Spencer, who re-opened the gym at its original location on 5th and Washington in Miami Beach.
In 2013, 5th St. Gym moved from its original location of 63 years, off and on, when CVS took over the property and forced the gym to move to its present location at nearby 1434 Alton Road.
“We’re slowly getting back,” Spencer explained. “We’ve only been reopened since 2010 and in our new location since 2013. We have new people – trainers, manager and fighters – and offer unique opportunities for up-and-coming professional boxers. You can’t catch passes from Tom Brady but boxers can train here every day with champions and contenders. There are also ultra-successful people here who can teach boxers about how to be successful outside the ring. We’re creating an environment at 5th St. Gym to give young boxers every opportunity to succeed.
“Wildcard Gym [Los Angeles] is the No. 1 spot today but, on this side of the country, fighters from all over the world are coming here to train. Bryant Jennings trained here for his fight with [Wladimir] Klitschko, Manual Charr trained here for his last fight, Anthony and Andre Dirrell have trained here, (Sergey) Kovalev, too. They get elite sparring here for their training camps. Some come here with their coach, others have me train them.
“A lot of boxing managers are here every day like John Seip and Charr’s manager was hanging out here, too. In fact, he’s interested in signing a fighter he saw at our gym. People from Warriors Gym are here a lot looking for young talent. These people can make a difference in a young fighter’s life. Fighters are getting exposure here before they ever get to fight on TV. We also have great weather and all the amenities of South Beach. It’s only a matter of time before we’re back on top at No. 1.”
Times have changed and today the heart and soul of 5th St. Gym beats strong once again with world-class boxers training alongside supermodels Adriana Lima, Alessandra and Nina Adgal, as well as Grammy winner Cedric Gervais, just to name a few of the more notable non-boxer members working out there on a regular basis.
Once again, 5th St. Gym is the training mecca for world champions, top contenders and promising prospects. In fact, Seip discovered gifted Italian boxer Daniele Marco Scardina at 5th St. Gym and signed him to a professional contract.
Newly-crowned International Boxing Federation [IBF] super middleweight champion James DeGale trained at 5th St. Gym for his recent title-winning performance against Andre Dirrell, who has also trained at 5th St. Gym in the past, in Boston.DeGale sparred with the gym’s top amateur southpaw, Niko Valdes, to prepare for Dirrell. DeGale won a unanimous 12-round decision over Dirrell to become the first British Olympic gold medalist to capture a major world title as a professional boxer.
“Four years ago,” Seip explained, “I moved my managerial company to Miami from New York City. It had become very difficult to find solid sparring in New York City, where boxing gyms were closing due to the demand for high rents. The 5th St Gym has grown back into a big time professional boxing gym. I house all my fighters in Miami and they all train exclusively at 5th St. Gym for boxing and conditioning. There are pros who fly in from other countries to prepare there for fights. The atmosphere is incredible and professional boxers, heavyweights to featherweights, spar there three or four days a week. Let’s face it, sparring is like a classroom and it’s pivotal for pros to prepare and learn. The teachers at 5th St. Gym — Dino Spencer, Guy Laieta and Louis Perez – are all top rated. It’s also a fun place to hang my hat. You cannot beat Miami weather for training, either.”
Photo: Tom Tsatas and the 5th Street Gym