(courtesy of Capitol Hill History.org)
His gym on 10th and Maryland Ave., NE was, for decades, the home to a who's who of local and national boxers like Bob Foster, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson. It's very walls contained a large portion of Beltway Boxing history. The gym was so famous, it was once featured in a boxing video game. Also, the boxing scenes in the 1973 film Scorpio were filmed there.
We hear word that the owner of Finley's Gym -- Jim Finley -- passed away this morning. He was 84 years old.
Mr. Finley was born in Greenville, SC in 1929 and came to Washington, DC in 1943. Mr. Finley was an amateur boxer but also took to fixing cars. In the 1950's, Finley's Garage opened and, above that garage in 1960, Mr. Finley opened his gym. The gym was opened to anyone who wanted some real hard core boxing training. That wasn't exclusive to pro or amateur boxers. Chuck Brown was a frequent visitor to the gym as was Miles Davis whenever he was in town. The gym stayed open until 2001.
The gym was, indeed, a museum devoted to the history of Beltway Boxing. The walls and ceiling contained many posters that allowed visitors to reminisce about great moments in local boxing.
Mr. Finley himself was a very humble man who was incredibly nice. A lot of what we are as the Beltway Boxing community can be traced directly back to James C. Finley. RIP to a wonderful man and deepest condolences to his family.