The 5th St. Gym 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, 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 the greatest of them all, Cassius Clay-who then became the ubiquitous Muhammad Ali. He still remains the shining accomplishment of Oz (5th St. Gym).
It helped shape the history of Miami Beach. It is synonymous with the history of Miami Beach for what it was and has become once again. The gym became a tourist attraction in the decayed streets as the money had moved north the Fountain Bleu and Eden Roc. The biggest names and fighters paraded through this magical gym known as 5th St Gym; Ali, Basilio, Griffilth, Arche Moore, Willie Pep, Sonny Liston, Roberto Duran. The list is infinite. As shabby and unkempt the area was, the gym simply belonged.
It had taken many years, but once again the gym came alive in 2009. The Wizard was gone. The original concrete was gone. Ali and Pacheco had aged along with the Prince. However, the magic of 5th St. Gym was reborn and the love of boxing was back. The rebirth of the 5th St. Gym has continued to keep its spirit alive.
Tom Tsatas and Dino Spencer dusted off Oz; and with the guidance and blessing of Angelo the gym once again re-opened in its original location at 5th and Washington.
Dino Spencer, Angelo Dundee’s student and protégé is the direct lineage for the gym. Dino, who has lived his life in the gym and also trained under current world renowned trainer Freddy Roach, is now here 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. Tom Tsatas, who coincidentally shares the same birthday with Muhammad Ali (Jan 17th), has used his passion for boxing to take on the insurmountable task of reviving the marvel that is the 5th St. Gym-thus, sustaining the legacy of its predecessor. Although Cassisus Clay or The Wizard Chris Dundee can never be replaced, for there can only ever be one of each, the world is sure to see a new line of accomplished fighters emerge from the 5th St. Gym. This duo has used the surreal energy of the legends who had trained here to uphold the memory of some of the greatest individuals in boxing history. Sadly Angelo passed away in February of 2012 but his spirit truly lives on.
In 2013 the 5th St. Gym finally moved from the original location at 5th & Washington where it was on and off for 63 years. CVS would take over and force the gym to move to a temporary location, and again back to 5th St. where it is currently back home at 1019 5th St.
The gym today is training an array of talent. Everyone from Victoria Secrets supermodel Adriana Lima to Bernard Hopkins and Grammy winner Cedric Gervais can be seen there on a regular basis. Almost every professional boxer in the world will come through and train at the 5th St. Gym when they are in South Florida. Mostly however, the locals who live and work in the area have made 5th St. Gym their second home. Moms, doctors, models, and dads and their kids alike are keeping the 5th St. Gym alive and well . We are truly excited and looking forward to even better times in the future. Thank you and remember. “It don’t cost nuthin to be nice!”-Angelo Dundee