ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Birmingham, who with his brother Dan at the St. Petersburg Boxing Club trained hundreds of fighters over more than 20 years, including former undisputed light middleweight champion Winky Wright and super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy, died Sunday. He was 49.
Birmingham followed his brother to St. Petersburg in the mid-1970s. He trained a 9-year-old named Jeff Lacy from the time he walked into the gym, and later served as a cut man and conditioning coach.
He grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and earned a reputation as scrappy, if undersized, fighter. An an amateur boxer, he started in the lightweight classes but eventually worked his way up to heavyweight.
"Mike was always the toughest kid in class, the toughest kid on the block and one of the nicest kids," said brother Dan Birmingham, 57. "He was the one who beat the bullies up."
He was fond of his black Labrador, Buddy, and took him for walks on Sunset Beach several times a day. After not seeing Birmingham walking the dog for a few days, a neighbor checked on him Sunday and found Birmingham on the floor in his apartment.
The Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office is conducting an autopsy, but has not determined the cause of death.
— Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer