Photos: New Miami Beach 5th St. Gym Continues Rich Boxing History

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“The Greatest” Muhammad Ali regularly trained at 5th St. Gym

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Through the years 5th St. Gym photo gallery below
(pictures courtesy of Tom Tastas and 5t St. Gym)

MIAMI BEACH (June 8, 2015) – The new 5th St. 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 St. 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 St. 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.
 

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Newly-crowned International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight champion James DeGale, pictured here with 5th St. Gym owner Dino Spencer, 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 Olympic gold medalist from Great Britain 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.”
 
For more information about 5th St Gym, visit www..5thstgym.com, follow on Twitter @5thstgym, or call 305.763.8110. Operation hours of gym are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am.-9:30 p.m. ET, Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. ET.
 

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Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali
 

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(L-R) 2008 U.S. Olympic Bronze medalist and world super middleweight title challenger Andre Dirrell, 5th St. Gym owner Dino Spencer and former world heavyweight/cruiserweight world champion David Haye
 

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(L-R) – Seated the late HOF trainer Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali, the late journalist Bert Sugar and Dino Spencer, behind (L-R)Tom Tsatas, unknown person, and former world heavyweight title challenger Fres Oquendo
 

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(L-R) – Former world heavyweight/cruiserweight champion David Haye & comedian Dave Chappelle

Forgotten Legends: Leonard Dorin

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By: Steve Gallegos

Only a handful of world champion boxers have come from the country of Romania. Lucian Bute is probably the best well known Romanian boxer, however before Bute, there was another fighter who was the face of Romanian boxing. His name was LeonardThe LionDorin. Dorin was an all action, in your face kind of fighter that seemed to rarely take a step back. He was one of the most exciting fighters to watch during the early 2000’s.

Dorin was born and raised in Ploiesti, Romania and was a decorated amateur with a record of 239-15. He would represent Romania in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games in which he took the bronze medal both times. Dorin would finally turn pro in 1998, signing with the Canadian promotional company Interbox. He would go 19-0 with six KO’s over the next three years, fighting mostly in his new adopted home of Canada. After winning a unanimous decision over the very popular and exciting Emmanuel Augustus, Dorin was in line for a title shot against Raul Balbi of Argentina.

They met on 01/05/02 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, TX and it was for the WBA Lightweight championship. It was a back and forth toe-to-toe war from the opening bell. Both men were busted up, particularly Dorin, who was cut over both eyes. Dorin had the edge though as his shots had more snap on them and he rarely took a step backwards, coming forward for most of the fight. When it was all said and done, Dorin was awarded a very close 12 round split decision. He was now a world champion.

Dorin would face Balbi again in a rematch four months later in his home country of Romania. This time Dorin was dominant, knocking Balbi down en route to a lopsided unanimous decision. Dorin would not fight again for another year. He would return to the ring in May of 2003 in a unification bout with fellow lightweight champion Paul Spadafora. The “Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora was unbeaten and had the advantage of fighting at home.

They met on 05/17/03 at the Petersen’s Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA for the unification of the WBA and IBF Lightweight titles. As was the case with Balbi, the fight was all action from the opening bell. Dorin would get the better of Spadafora in many exchanges as he got off first and continued to come forward. As the final bell sounded, it appeared to many that Spadafora’s unbeaten streak had come to an end; however the judges would decide otherwise. The final decision would be a split draw and both men would retain their titles.

Many fans and experts believed Dorin deserved the nod and a rematch was demanded, however it didn’t take place. After having difficulties making the 135 lb weight limit and being stripped of his title after failing to make weight for a title defense, Dorin moved up to 140 lbs and would challenge the ultimate blood and guts warrior Arturo Gatti.

They met on 07/24/04 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ for the WBC Super Lightweight Championship. On paper, this bout had all the makings of an all action war, however it was anything but. In the second round, Gatti landed a hard shot to the body that put Dorin down and out. It was Dorin’s first professional loss and it would be his last fight as he would announce his retirement shortly afterwards. He was 34 years old.

His record as a professional stands at 22-1-1 with 8 KO’s. Today, Dorin resides in Romania as he trains up and coming boxers. Many fans including myself, believed Leonard Dorin had a lot more to offer in the sport of boxing. Did his quest for Olympic Gold have a negative effect on his professional career. Had he turned pro sooner, would he have had more high profile bouts and won more world titles? In the end it was a professional career that started too late and ended too soon.
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AP: Arturo Gatti – Leonard Dorin

Forgotten Legends: Clifford Etienne

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By: Steve Gallegos

In the early 2000’s, American fight fans were searching for the next great heavyweight. Lennox Lewis was in his reign as the universally recognized “Undisputed” heavyweight champion and American fight fans adopted Lewis as one of their own. However they needed a successor and they thought they were getting it in CliffordThe Black RhinoEtienne.

Etienne was a good sized, well built heavyweight that had good power in both hands and he provided fireworks anytime he stepped into the ring. Etienne was born and raised in Lafayette, LA. At age 18, Etienne was arrested and charged with Armed Robbery in which he received a 40 year prison sentence. It was in prison that he took up the sport of boxing and would compile a prison record of 30-0. Etienne was released from prison after 10 years and would turn pro in 1998, winning his first 15 bouts, 11 by KO.

2000 would be his breakout year as he would gain national exposure and TV time. He met fellow unbeaten heavyweight and future heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster on 05/06/00 in Pittsburgh, PA. It was the first bout on HBO’s new boxing series “KO Nation”. Etienne shined well as he dominated Brewster in exciting fashion en route to a 10 round unanimous decision. After scoring a third round KO over Joey Guy the next month in Baton Rogue, LA, Etienne would return to “KO Nation” in September as he scored an impressive three round KO over Clifford Couser. He would close out 2000 on a high note as he appeared on the Lennox Lewis vs David Tua Pay Per View undercard.

He would face former U.S. Olympian and unbeaten heavyweight Laurence Clay-Bey. It was a back and forth slugfest from the opening bell and it would steal the show that night in Las Vegas. The end result would be a 10 round unanimous decision win for Etienne. Etienne was at the top of his game and it appeared he was on his way to becoming the next heavyweight champion. He would sign a big contract with Showtime Networks and was scheduled to make his first appearance on the network in early 2001. Etienne’s career was moving along very fast, however it was about to hit a major roadblock.

He met Fres Oquendo on 03/23/01 in Las Vegas, NV. The fight was supposed to be another showcase for Etienne, however he was destroyed in eight rounds in which Oquendo dropped him a total of seven times. It was a huge setback for Etienne, however he would bounce back. He would go 5-1-1 with four KO’s over the next year. This would put him in line for a big money fight against Mike Tyson.

The fight was scheduled for 02/22/03 at the Pyramid in Memphis, TN. Tyson would pull out of the bout just days before the scheduled match, however he would arrive in Memphis and would change his mind, putting the fight back on. Most of Etienne’s camp had left Memphis after Tyson had pulled out and Clifford wasn’t sure whether or not he should fight. At the last minute, Etienne decided to go through with the bout and the fight with Tyson was on.

Inside the ring, Tyson would knockout Etienne with a right hand in only 49 seconds of the first round. It was another major setback for Etienne and his stock would drop tremendously after this fight. He continued to fight over the next two years, going 5-2-1 with three KO’s. His troubles outside the ring however would once again get the better of him.

In 2005, Etienne was arrested on charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and attempted murder of a police officer. He would be sentenced to 105 years in prison without the possibility of parole. He remains incarcerated in Lousiana. His record as a professional stands at 29-4-2 with 20 KO’s. Did his career take off too fast, becoming too much to handle? Could his career inside the ring have been more successful had he stayed out of trouble outside the ring? Another case of “What If”.
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