After World War I, the nation was feeling the effects of a long war and returning soldiers struggled with shell shock and trying to return to some semblance of normalcy in their life. For the rest of the country, the Great Depression and World War II were merely a short time into the future, but in the heart of Harlem, at 116th Street and 8th Avenue was Grupps Gymnasium.
Founded by Billy Grupps, it became known as the preeminent gym in New York City after World War I. Grupps gym had everything that the aspiring boxer could ever want to train in back in those days. An open layout and bright light invited in hope and determination on the backs of those who walked through the doors.
Sugar Ray Robinson trained here and called it Grupps College. Jack Dempsey trained for a period of time at Grupps as well when he was 20. He recalled that it was a great environment in which to learn and that there were always great fighters to learn from, and veterans willing to share their experiences.
The sounds of Grupps Gymnasium only echo now in the memories of one was, having been silenced by the lines of downtrodden to filter to the soup kitchen that now holds down this location.