KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A punch-packing side of Kalamazoo’s history is on display through an exhibit and upcoming documentary.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum stands on the grounds of what used to be the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy, where some of the greatest to ever put on the gloves and step into the ring trained and competed. From upstarts to icons, names like Mayweather Sr., Spinks and even Ali graced the halls of the KBA, dating back to its formation in the mid-20th century.
Museum visitors can learn more about the academy’s story through the exhibit “The Forgotten Fighters of Kalamazoo.” The first-floor features apparel, posters, pictures and stationary from a time when the KBA was considered one of the best in the sport.
“It led to many big achievements. Some went pro, others achieved their golden gloves and other things in notoriety. But for most, it was just an opportunity to just become better individuals through the training that they got here,” said museum director Bill McElhone. “It’s kind of neat to see those connections and to be able to tell this story.”
A 12-part — rather, 12-“round” — documentary made by Dacia Bridges, the late granddaughter of boxer Eddie Bridges, will also be released, featuring interviews of past members talking about their time in the ring and how the academy was truly the main event.
“The story is beginning to get some real legs, pun intended, so we’re excited that Dacia’s vision and hopes for preserving and promoting this history is still happening today,” McElhone said.
The documentary will make its public debut in the museum’s theater on Sept. 10.