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'Tales From the 5th St. Gym' by Fredie Pacheco NYT Review: View From the Corner

Over the years, various gyms have emerged as the Sorbonne of the sweet science. In the 1930s and ’40s, there were Stillman’s and Gleason’s in New York, and much later the Kronk in Detroit. But during the late ’50s and early ’60s, the Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach became one of the grand hubs of pugilism. It was out of that cocoon of combat that the young Cassius Clay was transmogrified into Muhammad Ali.

The gym was founded by two Italian-­Americans from South Philadelphia, Chris and Angelo Dundee (born Mirena). The brothers had teamed up in New York and then moved their boxing operation south in the early ’50s. Chris, the elder of the two, was a brilliant businessman who many insist would have out-­hustled Don King in King’s heyday. (Chris Dundee died in 1998.) Angelo, maestro to Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, the older George Foreman and a dozen other world champions, was one of the premier trainers of the 20th century.

Why Miami? It was a booming vacation spot and open territory. There, Chris and Angelo developed a large stable of fighters and kept their boxers active by promoting weekly shows at the Miami Beach Auditorium...


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