Exclusive: Tom Tsatas Talks About The Re-Opening Of The Legendary 5th St. Gym In Miami
by James Slater - In what is exciting and great news for the sport of boxing, it is soon to be officially announced how the legendary 5th St. Gym in Miami, Florida is to reopen its doors later in the summer.
Article posted on 12.06.2010
Once THE boxing gym of the sport and home to such all-time greats as Muhammad Ali, Archie Moore, Sonny Liston and countless others fistic immortals, The 5th St. Gym will reopen its doors and be a boxing gym as well as a veritable museum, crammed full of memorabilia that will be denoted by masterful old trainer Angelo Dundee..
Kindly taking time out to speak with me about the momentous occasion the reopening of the world famous gym is, boxing manager/promoter Tom Tsatas informed me further on the whole, hugely interesting development.
Here is what Tom had to say earlier today:
James Slater: It's great to speak with you again, Tom. The big news is the reopening of The 5th St. Gym. When will the reopening take place?
Tom Tsatas: It's a pleasure, James. Yes, it's all happening, just as I told you (off the record a few months back). I'm so excited! The announcement will come at The Hall of Fame this weekend, and we will do a press release as well. The gym will probably open in mid-July, that's what we're working on - and the grand opening will likely be in the middle of August.
J.S: The grand opening is sure to be a real event!
T.T: It sure will. They're going to close off the street that day, Muhammad Ali is coming with Angelo [Dundee] and the governor of Florida is coming and highly interested also. There will also be four A-list Hollywood celebrities, who have confirmed they'll be there - they asked me not to name them yet. David Haye, if he has no fight on, will also come. As a matter of fact, before he was world champion he used to train in Miami. He and Fres [Oquendo] sparred a hundred or more rounds I guess. It will be a fantastic day. I have to keep pinching myself, I really do!
J.S: Talking of Angelo Dundee, who of course ran the gym back in the day - will he be involved once the gym reopens?
T.T: Absolutely; he and Ferdie Pacheco. Angelo ran the place with his brother, Chris, and he and Ferdie will be in the gym as much as they can. Angelo is 88, but he's in great shape and he still has it. He says he wants to find one more great champion, and he still has the passion. You can go to angelodundee.com and he will also reply to fans' emails. Ferdie's also really excited about it all, I was talking with him for two hours the other day. Angelo's protégé, Matt Baiamonte, he'll be the main trainer at 5th St, and he's the linkage to the gym. Dino Spencer and myself make up the rest of the team.
J.S: You will have some big name fighters training there too?
T.T: Absolutely. It will take a little time, but back in the day, ALL the great fighters came through the 5th St. Gym, and the energy, the name of the place, will ensure that fighters will come again. Obviously there are a lot of great Cuban fighters out in Miami, and with my connections I'll be trying to get as many fighters as I can. Any fighters from the South Florida area, we want them to come. It's just a great place to train, right on the beach, in the same place as before - 5th and Washington. It won't just be boxing though.
J.S: You'll have MMA guys working there, too? And classes, of course, for people to get fit?
T.T: Yeah, we'll have some MMA there, and some Jujitsu. But also, Angelo is going to donate a load of his memorabilia, photos from the Ali days - basically stuff you simply can't get any longer - and you'll be able to get a real sense of the history of the gym. It will be a cross between boxing training and memorabilia. The gym will almost be like a museum.
J.S: Not to pry, but who funded the reopening of the gym? Was that mainly you yourself?
T.T: A lot of that came from me and we got funding from a couple of investors who love boxing. A lot of people really want this to happen, and they're all pitching in. It's just a great, great thing. I mean, everyone, even women in their sixties, know of The 5th St. Gym. They all know where it is! The energy of the place is still there, no doubt about it. We had an old guy, he must have been in his late-seventies, and he had a tear in his eye when he found out about the plans for the gym; he couldn't believe it. We won't try and tell you it will be the same as it was before, in the '50s and 60's, but we will keep the spirit of the old gym, as well as adding or own legacy to 5th St. We're all young guys, and we are so excited and enthusiastic about what we're doing. I can't actually remember the last time I was this excited!
J.S: It really is a great thing for the sport, and I can see you getting nothing but great and supportive publicity. As you know, The 5th St. Gym was THE number-one gym in all of boxing at one time. Today, Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym seems to be at the top. Can The 5th St. Gym rise back to the top?
T.T: Well, first of all, Freddie's a great guy. He also said he'd try and come and support us when we open. I guess you can say Wild Card is the best gym in the world right now, and Freddie's earned that. But there is room in the country for a number-one and a number-two I think. We don't mind being number-two. Really, though, we don't want to compete with anyone. We like the way the atmosphere is at Wild Card, with everyone so welcome and everything. We'd like our gym to be like that. The 5th Street Gym was the university of boxing back in the day, and it was the university of Chris and Angelo. We are so happy to be reopening that.
J.S: That grand opening is sure to be some big event, too. I take it you will have a lot of media interest?
T.T: Like I say, the street will be closed off and the governor of Florida will be attending. Sports Illustrated and a number of other publications want to do a story on us and you can see why. I mean, Muhammad Ali was THE number-one figure of the 20th century. People from all over the world know him and this is the gym where he trained with Angelo. It's a real honour to be part of this, it really is.
J.S: It's been great and also fascinating talking to you about the legendary gym, Tom. I wish you good luck with the big project. I think it's nothing but good for boxing.
T.T: Thank you. I'll keep you posted on developments before the grand opening.
Fans can visit www.angelodundee.com or www.5thstgym.com for more info.
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