A few blocks down from Munich’s Hauptbahnhof, the central train station, wedged between two strip clubs in the city’s Turkish district, sits one of the world’s best boxing bars. The Sport-Café Schiller is a must-stop for any fan of the sweet science traveling through Bavaria.
Most bars that set out to have a boxing theme rarely get it right. Some try too hard in the beginning and end up being a trendy gastro-pub with a few boxing photos and posters on the wall. Others try to create neighborhood bar atmosphere, which results in a set-up that is as uncomfortable to outsiders as the bartenders’ demeanor.
No, the best boxing bars seem to slowly find their way as Sport-Café Schiller did. In 1989, Andrea Lang and her life partner, the legendary German wrestler Hans Fretz, bought Schiller-Espresso. The tavern was just another a pub near the train station and at first, so was Café Schiller, with mirrors, a few pictures and potted palm trees.
Fretz had great relationships with athletes across the world and an ample amount of sports memorabilia in his home, much of it having to do with boxing. He began placing it in his bar and the Sport-Café Schiller was born. Over the years, numerous athletes have visited and donated more items.
Today, Sport-Café Schiller accomplishes something few pubs have been able to do, create a wonderful sports bar with a neighborhood feel. The fact that it has a boxing theme is icing on the cake.
When you enter, you are immediately met with posters of the great fights of the past 80 years. However, you also see some of the less-remembered bouts, including Evander Holyfield/Larry Holmes and George Foreman/Gerry Cooney. In between the posters are framed classic copies of The Ring and photos and memorabilia autographed by a “Who’s Who” of fighters. Two items that stand out are one of Rocky Marciano’s championship belts and an International Boxing Hall of Fame robe autographed by numerous greats no longer with us, including Willie Pep and Kid Gavilán.
Sport-Café Schiller also meets two requirements of any boxing bar in Germany. First, it offers a good portion of its wall space to Muhammad Ali, including numerous posters of his fights, ring gear and photos of “The Greatest” and Fretz. Former heavyweight champion Max Schmeling also receives a great deal of exposure, the most prized possession being a few of his championship belts.
Fretz died of an aneurysm in 2001, but Lang has continued on with the Sport-Café Schiller. If you are in Munich, you will not regret stopping at Schiller Strasse 3 for a liter of beer and a dose of boxing history.