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  • The Forgotten Fighters of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy

    The Forgotten Fighters of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy

About the Exhibit

Match, The Forgotten Fighters of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy traces the history of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy while focusing on fighters who recount their personal experiences there.

February 5, 2022 – September 18, 2022

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Key Info

Type: Upcoming

Location: Museum, 1st Floor

Exhibit highlights

  • Trace the history of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy
  • Learn about the Academy’s impact on the community
  • Hear about experiences of boxers, trainers, and others

History of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy

Broken into 12 “rounds” in tribute to the structure of a boxing match, the exhibit will trace the history of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy while focusing on fighters who recount their personal experiences there. Details about the gym and the communal living space at the house will be uncovered, along with stories about the fighting techniques and philosophies of the trainers that made the gym in Kalamazoo unique and successful.

Impact on the Community

Although the KBA went on to cater to renowned professionals such as Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, and Floyd Mayweather Sr., its true impact on the community was its continued commitment to young, local sparrers. In 1978, two of the highest-ranked amateur boxers in the nation were KBA fighters Shawn Thomas and Eddie B. Stokes. To this day, Eddie attributes his boxing success to the devoted trainers and community atmosphere provided by the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy. He describes founders Henry Grooms and Eddie Bridges as “father figures.” Oliver Lewis, a middleweight who won three Golden Gloves Tournaments when he was in high school, credits the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy with helping him stay out of trouble as a teen and providing him with a deep sense of purpose. During its two-decade run, the KBA produced dozens of state champions plus Golden Gloves and Toughman Contest winners along the way.

Recounting Experiences at the Academy

Dacia Bridges, the granddaughter of Eddie Bridges, conducted dozens of recorded interviews with many of those involved at the KBA. She was in the process of completing a documentary on the subject when she passed away in 2019. Friends at Kalamazoo’s Lawrence Productions studio have completed her project, which includes a series of video clips that make up the foundation of the exhibit.

Where to find

The Forgotten Fighters of the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy

location
Kalamazoo Valley Museum
General Admission Is Free

230 North Rose Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
800.772.3370 | 269.373.7990
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The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.

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2021 American Alliance of Museums.
All rights reserved.

2021 Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
All rights reserved.