Finley’s Gym was above an auto-repair shop, down an alley in Northeast Washington, behind a battered door, then up a flight of creaking stairs. There it was, in all its shabby simplicity, a cramped space with a makeshift ring, a few jump-ropes and punching bags where boxers practiced their sweaty trade. The walls and ceiling were layered with fight posters dating back decades. Hand-lettered signs from the proprietor, Jim Finley, made it clear that this was a place for work, not for play. 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.
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.