In the basement of Salem Methodist Church was a hidden treasure a sanctuary for young, tough, and angry youth on the corner of 129th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City. The gym that may have been better described as a dungeon, with one small window high up in the concrete walls of the building’s foundation, a solitary sodium light bleeding in through the lead glass as evening set in.
The church leaders believed that energy was necessary to fight sin. As a result, the built a gym in the basement and added a boxing area. It was slow going to raise the funds to keep this idea afloat, but in time, they attracted a number of gifted athletes who were driven to succeed.
Stepping around the side of the church, past the sole sodium light, and down the steps, you’d enter into a dimly lit facility that shook off the connection to the church upstairs, aside from the lone cross on the wall.
A young kid, Walter Smith, would likely be working out, punching the bags, training in the ring, and being dedicated to becoming a champ someday. It was this boy that attracted more funding to help the gym grow. He would later become known as Sugar Ray Robinson and he was often the first to arrive and the last one to leave Salem Crescent Athletic Club.
It became known as one of the best boxing programs in the country and if you came out of it, you were known to be a proven warrior.
Enjoy the cool comfort of this tee and feel inspired, just like the young men whose lives were forever changed thanks to Salem Crescent Gym.
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