5th Street Gym (Miami)

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The 5th Street Gym, located at 555 Washington, Miami Beach, Florida, got its start in 1950 when Chris Dundee began promoting big time boxing in Miami Beach. It quickly became the celebrated "University of Boxing," overseen by Chris, the “Wizard of Oz,” and his brother Angelo, the “Prince of Oz.”

The gym was also a magnet for a wide range of international celebrities including Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, comedian Jackie Gleason, Malcolm X, The Beatles, Sean Connery, Frank Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone, and a myriad of others who were absorbed into the gym’s legendary mystique. Boxing people the world over sent their fighters to be trained at the 5th St. gym. Every possible thing that could be taught about this grim profession of boxing was taught by the Wizard. It originally lasted around four decades and created countless world champions, such as Carmen Basilio, Willie Pastrano, and Muhammad Ali.

This gym helped shape the history of Miami Beach. The gym became a tourist attraction in the decayed streets as the money had moved north to the Fountain Bleu and Eden Roc. As shabby and unkempt the area was, the gym simply belonged.

It has taken many years, but once again the gym has come alive. The original concrete is gone. But Tom Tsatas, Dino Spencer and Matt Baiamonte re-opened the gym. With the guidance and blessing of Angelo and his son, Jimmy Dundee, the gym once again is resurrected in its original location at 5th and Washington. Baiamonte, Angelo Dundee’s chief trainer and protégé, is the direct lineage for the gym. Spencer, who has lived his life in the gym and trained under current world renowned trainer Freddy Roach, is there side by side to condition, work corners, and teach a new crop and changed generation the art of conditioning, boxing and a new found sport of MMA to youth, women and new-comers. Finally, Tsatas, who coincidentally shares the same birthday with Muhammad Ali (January 17th), uses his passion for boxing to take on the insurmountable task of reviving the gym.

The gym has already had celebrities such as actor Matt Damon and comedian Dave Chapelle training there, as well as WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye, Fres Oquendo, Lucian Bute, George Groves, Anthony and Andre Direll, and Melissa Hernandez. Visitors have included Muhammad Ali, Shannon Briggs, Nazeem Richardson, Bert Sugar, Glen Johnson, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Emanuel Steward, Floyd Mayweather, Antonio Margarito, and others.

See also, Tales from the 5th St. Gym by Ferdie Pacheco