Taking place on Thursday September 23rd the red carpet grand opening of the 5th Street Gym brought together a special group of individuals who have been trained, inspired, or touched by the magic of the original 5th Street Gym. Guests included Angelo Dundee along three time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, “The Fight Dr.” Ferdie Pacheco, former Heavyweight Champion Shannon Briggs, Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Stewart, Hall of fame boxing writer Bert Sugar, former heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas, former Light-Heavyweight Champion Glen Johnson, International Jazz superstar Nicole Henry, Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Bower and various others.
Toraño Family Cigars was well represented as the patriarch of the family Carlos Toraño was in attendance along with Carlos Llaca and Master Roller Felipe Sosa. Event guests were treated to cocktails and some of Toraño’s finest cigars as they mixed and mingled while trading old tales of the original 5th Street gym while looking ahead at the promising future of the new incarnation. Dundee who at 89 still has a sharp mind and quick wit joked with Carlos Llaca that he never grew past his diminutive status because smoking cigars stunted his growth. Dundee, a wonderful story teller went on about falling in love with cigars when in Cuba while training boxers in the early 50’s. Bert Sugar (also present) was happy to grab a few Toraño Virtuoso cigars in between chatting and posing for pictures with boxing enthusiasts. Legends in their respective professions Carlos Toraño and Angelo Dundee chatted and posed together for pictures at this historic event.
South Beach was once known for producing and training some of the best boxers in the world. Before the night clubs and the sexy strip we know now as “South Beach” there stood the original 5th Street Gym. This run down gym so mythological and legendary it was nicknamed “OZ”. Chris Dundee or the “Wizard of Oz” and Angelo Dundee or known as the “Prince of Oz” trained countless world boxing champions to include Carmen Basilio, Sugar Ray Leonard, Willie Pastrano, and of course “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali. Celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Jackie Gleason, Joe Louis, and others would make their way to Miami just to touch the magic that was housed inside the walls of the 5th Street Gym. The new 5th Street Gym was only a dream until today. Carlos Llaca said, “It was truly an honor for the Toraño Family to be a part of this historic event. This may be the last time that Muhammad Ali, Angelo Dundee, and Dr. Ferdie Pacheco will be under the same roof together.”
That last quote from Carlos was a poignant one as Ali stricken by the Parkinson disease made a very rare public appearance. Not a dry eye in the house as chants from the crowd of “Ali, Ali, Ali” drowned out the music when Ali was guided by his sister in law to sit with his former trainer Dundee, and Dr. Ferdie Pacheco. Ali, too tired from the long journey from his home in Arizona exited after 20 minutes. With a simple wave to the adoring crowd he was gone. Those 20 minutes were electric enough to keep the Miami city lights on for days as invited guests had a difficult time holding back their emotions from catching a glimpse of “The Greatest.”
Toraño Family Cigars was honored and humbled to be part of such a historic event. Talking boxing, smoking great cigars, and sipping on cocktails in the presence of legends makes for a great evening.
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