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Murray makes Miami boxing pilgrimage

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Jonathan Overend | 08:23 UK time, Thursday, 31 March 2011

Andy Murray loves his boxing so much that when you throw the name Peter Buckley into the conversation, one of the most obscure British sportsmen of recent years, he can immediately tell you that he's the journeyman from Birmingham who retired recently with a memorable record of 32 wins and 256 losses.

He reads his Boxing News and knows his British champions, world champions, great fights, the lot.

Murray also knows that if you get the chance to visit the legendary 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, you don't pass up the chance.

First opened in 1950, the gym built a snarling reputation thanks to legendary trainer Angelo Dundee and his stable of world class fighters, including a certain Muhammad Ali.

Everywhere you look there are photos of the greats - Foreman, Liston, Smokin' Joe, the famous one of Ali and The Beatles (I made a point of standing on the very spot).

Muhammad Ali meets the Beatles in 1964

Muhammad Ali famously posed with The Beatles at the 5th Street Gym in 1964

Signed gloves hang from the walls, publicity posters surround the single ring.

Now refurbished and reopened on the original site, the 5th Street Gym acts as part training base, part museum.

The sign above the door reads the same as it did in the 50s: "Miami Beach 5th Street Gym. Nationally known boxers training here daily. Public Welcome."

Except, on this bright sunny South Beach afternoon, we found internationally known boxers and an internationally known tennis player for good measure. Murray had been invited down by David Haye, WBA heavyweight champion and a big tennis fan, who has set up camp in Miami ahead of his summer unification fight with Wladimir Klitschko.

"It's amazing," a wide-eyed Murray told me. "The thing I love about it, it's such humble surroundings. It's not like the facility is unbelievable, they've got exactly what they need and everyone in here is working hard, knuckling down."

And the sign was right, the public are welcome; people were just strolling in from the sidewalk.

"I was expecting to have to go through some sort of reception area," said Murray, "but you literally walk straight in and you've got the heavyweight champion of the world in here!"

He stood agog as a much anticipated five-round sparring session developed between George Groves, the Commonwealth super-middleweight champion, and Andre Dirrell, former world super-middleweight super-six contender.

"They're some of the best athletes in the world. It's incredibly intense," Murray observed.

Groves is being mentored by Haye and fights long-time rival James DeGale at the O2 Arena on 21 May in one of the most hyped domestic showdowns of recent years.

"He said some kind things to me," Groves reported of Murray's visit. "He said he'd been checking me out and it's just brilliant to have another great Brit in the gym."

So how can Murray's tennis benefit from the boxing experience?

"The one thing you can learn from is the intensity," he said. "In any individual sport being intense is very important, and for them they need to concentrate for every second or otherwise they're going to get hurt.

"Obviously in tennis we don't have that problem but the intensity is certainly something we can learn from, and also the attitude of everyone in here. So humble, working hard, it's great to see."

David Haye turns some music on - James Brown's Superbad - before posing for a photo with Murray and saying his farewells.

"Andy's a huge boxing fan," says the champ. "He probably knows more about domestic boxing than I do! Every time I talk to him he's always reading the Boxing News. I'm a fan of his as well."

And so we leave. Murray jumps in a cab, back to training on clay, and the world heavyweight champion strolls down Washington Avenue, towing his bag of stuff behind him. He's off to lunch.

Listen to David Haye, George Groves and Andy Murray in Jonathan Overend's special report from Miami's 5th Street Gym on 5 Live Boxing, Thursday at 2030 BST.


  • Comment number 1.

    What is the point of this?

  • Comment number 2.

    Very good piece Jonathan, didn't know anthing about the place, their friendship & Murray's love for boxing, a very informative piece.
    The intensity & concentration are certainly some things that look to be missing from Murray at times, a unique chance to see the good & the great still streching themselves is always valuable to see anytime, it would stop anyone resting on their laurels.

  • Comment number 3.

    Presumably, Mycroft, the intention is to inform, entertain and divert. Hopefully the reader knows something at the bottom of the piece s/he didn't know at the top. Why does everything have to have "a point".

    Thanks Jonathan. An interesting read.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hope Murray wins a slam this year. I am a huge fan here and would never give up on Murray.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good blog Jonathan - nice to get an insight into the activities of our biggest sporting stars outside of the public eye.

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting piece Jonathon. Andy could certainly take something from some of these guys, definitely intensity missing in his game since the Aus Open!

  • Comment number 7.

    It's my impression that in the big games Andy has been out-enthused by his opponent. Hopefully by visiting David he can show a little bit more determination in his quest to win that major title.

  • Comment number 8.

    You don't appear to have a good word to say about anything... a more pertinent question would be to ask, what is the point of your posts?

    You don't even bother to elaborate in explaining why you think this blog issue is a waste of time.

  • Comment number 9.

    mycroft you are a total idiot, that just wants to put- down anything and anyone just because you can.the forums can do without people and comments like you!
    as for the blog i fully enjoyed reading it and found out more information than most blogs well done!
    anyone here think andy murray will get over his mental scars that he has losing the aussie final? i fully hope so but it will take a long time in my oppinion

  • Comment number 10.

    For the hard of understanding the question in reply #1 refers to the fact that the Beeb's tennis correspondent has written an article in which only one sentence says anything salient about tennis.

    Murray fans know he likes his boxing. We also know that in his current dire situation the last thing we want to be hearing about is his hobbies, when there are so many unanswered questions about his form, training, coaching setup and future plans. We don't even know if he's going to play Monte Carlo.

    Presumably all the easily pleased commenters here would be equally excited about an article documenting Mark Cavendish's favourite sandwich fillings?

  • Comment number 11.

    Mycroft, your life must be pretty gloomy. Biscuits, if you write the blog I will read it.

    Very interesting blog in my opinion. Good to see Groves sparring with good opposition, although I still think DeGale will beat him fairly comfortably. Hope Murray can get over this current bad patch, and he will win a major eventually, he's too good not to.

  • Comment number 12.

    Have to agree with Mycroft and Biscuits in their criticisms of this article.

    It's drivel.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dedwood the problem is entirely down to your sporting viewpoint. If you're a boxing fan then maybe this is a bit more fascinating; but like I said there are way more interesting things to be writing about from a tennis perspective, particularly with respect to Murray, particularly right now. If anything the fact that he's mucking about with boxers typifies the despair with which his fans are viewing his current state of mind. Worse even than the silly twitters and the videogames nonsense.

    Seeing as you asked though I made the call. Mark says he is fond of a bit of egg mayonnaise; it does repeat on him a bit but he says that gives him a bit of an edge in a bunched sprint. He also likes chicken and avocado which he says is always an interesting balance of flavours. And spam.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a part of some minor blog, the piece is fine and have a small modicum of interest. But as the main link on the BBC Sport Homepage to tennis, it's a waste of space. There's actually a tennis tournament going on at the moment. We've got a guy unbeaten all year with a chance of setting a new record. We've a new American No. 1 in something of a fairytale late career flourish. And then we've Andy Murray who is declining faster than Julian Glover in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This article tries to imply that Murray is looking to boxing to find the intensity he needs in tennis which is a fantasy based on a few soundbites he probably made up on the spot to please the guy with the mic in his face.

    The BBC tells us it is reducing minor sport coverage due to a lack of resources. I suggest it uses what little resources it has to cover the actual sport rather than these sideshows. Jonathan Overend actually wrote a passable piece on Murray's current woes. It would do us a greater service to link to that rather than trying to attract passing interest with this vacuous nonsense.

  • Comment number 15.

    *has a small modicum of interest...

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh dear, there's more trolls on here than in a Terry Pratchett novel. When will people realise that the BBCs mandate is not to please all the people all the time?

    Personally I found the blog (and it is a blog, not actual sport coverage) interesting and a good read.

  • Comment number 17.

    Agree with Mycroft and Biscuits in that we should be concentrating on the actual tennis that is going on. But this is the BBC and it is supposed to concentrate on British athletes. Equally perhaps Jonathan was trying to provide some respite from the hundreds of articles talking about Murray's coach situation and loss of form which all say the same thing.

    But yes, lets hear some more about the other players on the tour. It can't be impossible for the BBC's tennis correspondent to get interviews with other top players. Let's hear about Milos Raonic, Alexander Dolgopolov, Ryan Harrison!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Moral of the story: never tag an article boxing and tennis.

  • Comment number 19.

    *Presumably all the easily pleased commenters here would be equally excited about an article documenting Mark Cavendish's favourite sandwich fillings?*


    Don't knock it, i once heard a BBC Radio solent phone-in show totally dedicated to 'your favourite sandwich filling'

    I think Cavendish would be a Chicken & Mayo (low fat) type of guy

  • Comment number 20.

    Someone asked What Is The Point Of This?

    Not much, life doesn't always have to have immense, crucial meaning and pertinence in every corner and cranny.

    I thought it was only mildly interesting but quite nice to see a different side to the interests of our main sporting representative. Bit of a snapshot to things we rarely see a side of. It is journalism, just not front-line stuff. So what?

  • Comment number 21.

    Mycroft has a point. The BBCs sport's pages have taken to sensationalist nonsense more often than not to attract attention. Why link to this where almost nothing is said other than "I'm his fan" when that space can be better linked to real ongoing sports issues. Its a passing trivia nothing more. As an example of the tabloid approach taken recently by the bbc just take alook at the ridiculous amount of web page space given to Dalglish "defending" Andy Carrol. It's all nonsense blown up out of all proportion by the media.

  • Comment number 22.

    Boxing is a horrible activity... personally I wouldn't call it a "sport".

  • Comment number 23.

    Unfortunately for Andy, he probably has a bigger chance of winning a world title than he does a grand slam.

  • Comment number 24.

    To Summarise:

    Murray gets phone call from his mate David Haye.

    Murray looks at some photos of old boxers.

    Murray takes away the following messages:

    1) It's great looking at humble people working hard that are prepared to punch your lights out.

    2) Although in tennis you're not going to get your lights punched out he can learn from their intensity.

    Only time will tell whether Murray will use this experience to refind his form and win Wimbledon, but if he does then you heard it here first folks.

  • Comment number 25.

    Good on Andy, as a former pro boxer and an international in 2 sports, it is always necessary to draw inspiration and to keep your focus sharpened. Tennis players often get rewards and comforts way above what they have achieved.
    Andy achieved as a junior and moved at a young age to Spain but maybe has lost focus on why he took tennis up, hopefully - to be the best.
    My inspirations were Linford Christie and Seb Coe, although I had nothing to do with athletics.
    What's the point, every achievement is born out of inspiration! Are the record books and history to stand still.

  • Comment number 26.

    "The sign above the door reads the same as it did in the 50s: "Miami Beach 5th Street Gym. Nationally known boxers training here daily. Public Welcome."

    What I am struggling to figure out is the lasttime Iwent to the fifth street gym it had been knocked down and a wacovia bank was in its place and all thatremaimed was a plaque on the wall???

    Interesting!!! Has it been rebuilt? Did it move some time ago?

  • Comment number 27.

    So is all the commenters who think this is interesting have never used google before or seen Andy's interest in boxing passing in the media?


  • Comment number 28.

    Such loftiness, such scorn, such superiority complexes! Get over yourselves.

  • Comment number 29.


    Guess we all knew that the standard of BBC tennis journalism would plummet when 606 was removed.

    In this age of cuts, I'd like to see a headcount of BBC staff (including BBC Scotland) covering tennis (or hobbies) in the USA over the past month.

    Loved Andy's April fools day twitter and the fact that some media companies bought it.


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