Sorry WSVN, But That Wasn't the Original 5th Street Gym That Got Jacked
Usually WSVN reporter Rosh Lowe is on point. That's why he received the Best TV reporter nod in this year's Miami New Times Best Of issue. And it's why he recently landed the first on camera interview with Carolyn Knox, mother of Jennifer Alfonso, the South Miami woman allegedly murdered by her husband Derick Medina who made national headlines by posting a photo of his dead wife and confessing to killing her on Facebook.
But during WSVN's Tuesday evening newscast August 13, Lowe got it wrong big time.
He reported an "exclusive" about a suspicious weekend burglary at the Miami Beach gym where Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, once trained. Lowe says that World Famous 5th Street Gym at 555 Washington Ave. is a "Miami Beach landmark" and, "This is a gym steeped in the history of boxing."
Except that it isn't.
The second floor loft on the corner of Fifth and Washington -- where legendary trainer Angelo Dundee schooled Ali and where other famous boxers from Joe Louis to Jake LaMotta to Sugar Ray Leonard practiced the sweet science -- was shuttered in 1992. And a wrecking ball destroyed the two-story building one year later.
Rosh Lowe tweets inaccurate information about 5th Street Gym.
In 2001, a new four-story glass and concrete office structure with a parking garage was built on the 5th Street Gym site. Nine years later, business partners Dino Spencer and Tom Tsastas incorporated the name 5th Street Gym and opened their incarnation of the storied fight club on the ground floor of 555 Washington Ave.
WSVN's misleading headline and story about 5th Street Gym on Miami Beach
As part of their marketing strategy, Spencer and Tsastas brought in Dundee, whose brother Chris owned the original gym for more than 50 years. Spencer is a former boxer who trained under Angelo. His name was added to the marquee, the entry doors, t-shirts and other promotional items. Dundee, Ali, and the "fight doctor" Ferdie Pacheco were among the sports celebs to show up for the new gym's grand opening in 2010. The trainer even recorded the voice message for the gym, telling prospective pugilists: "I'm looking for a new heavyweight champ."
"Dundee was definitely a stakeholder in the gym," Tsastas says. "He had everything to do with the gym until he passed away last year."
Although a spokesman for the Dundee family say relatives cut ties with Spencer and Tsastas six months after Angelo's death on February 1, 2012 -- something Tsastas vehemently denied. "We never cut ties with Dundee," he says. "We incorporated the name on our own with Angelo's blessing."
Tsastas acknowledges the original 5th Street Gym was razed 20 years ago, yet insists that its spirit lives on at World Famous.
But that's not how Lowe, who did not respond to a request for comment, spinned it for WSVN. The reporter emphatically states that Tsastas' 5th Street Gym is the same exact place where Dundee trained his palookas.
During the three minute and 22-second clip, Lowe interviews Spencer's mother, Nina, about the burglary. He asks her to name some of the great boxers that trained there. "Oh my God, George Foreman," she says.
Lowe interjects and rattles off two more famous names. "Sugar Ray Leonard," he says. "Muhammad Ali." Nina nods in agreement. Then a Lowe voice over proclaims that 5th Street Gym "opened in the Fifties, closed for a period of time in the Nineties, and was reopened in 2010." Lowe and Nina Spencer never clarify that the original building was torn down and that the new gym was affiliated with Dundee in name only.
As for possible suspects, Tsastas says he believes the burglary was an inside job. "There was no forced entry," he says. "Someone just came in and took everything." He adds the timing is also suspect because he and his partner had to move out by September 1st because the landlord leased their space to CVS. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this was an inside job," Tsastas says. "Obviously whoever is responsible knew we were leaving soon."
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter:
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.