Read an except from the upcoming book by Joe Broadmeadow and Brendan Doherty. Go inside with investigators who infiltrated the mob. Sit with the detectives as they monitor wiretaps. Come face to face with some of the most notorious mobsters who stalked the streets of Providence, Boston, and New York.
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Chapter 3 Grundy’s Gym
In 1978, Brendan walked in the door of Grundy’s Gym in Central Falls, Rhode Island. The experience here would have a lifelong impact on Brendan. Something he could never imagine when he first went in.
It was a real boxing gym, not a studio with mirrors where guys hit the bag and brag to girls that they’re fighters. Like most hard-core boxing gyms, it didn’t have the luxury of a quality cleaning service.
Pungent sweat, punctuated by the snap of leather on leather, engulfed you. Grunts, groans, and the shouts of trainers added to the mix. Marinated in the blood, sweat, and tears from years of boxers chasing glory, the building held the echoes of dreams, despair, and determination.
It was where the thrill of victory rarely interrupted the agony of defeat. Most guys were just happy to survive. It was all part of the less glamorous reality of the boxing world.
Old fight promotion posters and pictures of boxers covered the walls. Fighters who never made it to the main bout yet showed enough heart to earn a place on that wall. Making the wall was an accomplishment, perhaps their only one, but here it meant something.
Dried blood stains covered the floor of the ring, known as the canvas, serving as reminders of bouts that went beyond sparring. There was no Rocky-style soundtrack to underscore the punishing pain. The dingy walls, gray shades of age, echoed and amplified the sounds. It wasn’t music, but it held a certain charm to those immersed in the sport. The only color, besides the boxing trunks, was the purplish-red splotches on bruised bodies.
This place was the real deal.
The owner, Bob Grundy, who later became like an uncle to Brendan, was a character out of central casting for a tough guy movie. He was a Marine Raider in World War II, fighting in the extended operation on Guadalcanal, considered the turning point of the war in the Pacific. He came up the hard way, born and raised in a one-room, cold-water flat in the Darlington section of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
He worked hard, opened his own construction company, and did well. He was a generous man who gave back to his community. He started his gym after the Notre Dame Boxing Club closed. Bob understood the gym was the only thing between jail and the streets for some young men.
Bob charged no one for membership. The gym was free if you comported yourself like a gentleman. It was an exciting mix of characters, including ex-cons, pro fighters, cops, and con men.
If Grundy’s gym was the real deal, the authenticity came from Bob Grundy. Bob’s son, Peter, a football star at Bishop Feehan who later became one hell of a fighter, introduced Brendan to the place…
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