It's easy to forget now, but Miami Beach was once the nexus of the world boxing scene thanks mostly to Angelo Dundee, the Hall of Fame trainer who opened the legendary 5th Street Gym with his brother Chris. Dundee trained dozens of elite fighters at the SoBe gym — most notably Muhammad Ali. Dundee died late last night at the age of 90.
"Angelo Dundee is one of the best in the world," Ali says in one interview while he was still fighting. "A real trainer, when he gets a great fighter he doesn't have to train him, he just has to coach him on what to do based on who he's fighting."
Dundee developed a blood clot after flying to Louisville to visit Ali for the fighter's 70th birthday, his son James tells the L.A. Times. He died last night in a Tampa-area rehabilitation center where he was trying to recover from the condition.
The Dundee brothers brought boxing to Miami in the early '50s, when Angelo opened the 5th Street Gym and Chris focused on promoting fights at the Miami Beach Auditorium.
Dundee worked with a staggering list of great boxers in the ring tucked above a drug store at 5th and Washington, from Carmen Basilio to Ali to Sugar Ray Leonard.
Jump to the three-minute mark in this video to see Ali chatting about his trainer's influence on his career:
The brothers sold the gym in the '80s and it was torn down in 1993;Chris Dundee died in 1998
But Angelo had recently re-emerged in Miami, owning a share of a new incarnation of the 5th Street Gym, which re-opened in 2010 with an accompanying book from trainer Freddy Pacheco about Dundee's years running the place.
In one of Dundee's last interviews, posted to You Tube this past October, the trainer says a lifetime in boxing was a blessing.
"I had a lot of fun," he says. "I was a very fortunate human being that worked in something he loved. So I always had a great time, whatever day it was, whatever person I met, whatever fighter I trained ... I always had fun."
Here's that interview in full:
While you're likely to hear a lot today about how Miami's boxing scene is vastly deteriorated from Dundee's days at the 5th Street Gym,there's a whole new generation of largely Cuban stars who grew up watching Dundee's fighters now making a name for Miami
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in the ring.