In This Corner: 5 Questions for Bruce Silverglade

We sat down with Bruce Silverglade of Gleason's Gym to discuss the state of boxing in New York City, the appeal of white collar boxing, the time The Greatest made a stop in DUMBO and more.

"Now whoever has courage, and a strong and collected spirit in his breast, let him come forth, lace up his gloves, and put up his hands."

This quote from the Roman poet, Virgil welcomes professional, amateur and white collar boxers alike to Gleason's Gym at 77 Front Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Known as the "...oldest and busiest active boxing gym in the world..." Gleason's is known not just in New York, but around the world as a world-class boxing institution where fighters such as Jake LaMotta, Cassius Clay, Julio Cesar Chavez, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Mike Tyson, Arturo Gatti and Shane Mosley have trained (they also recently hosted the training sessions between a boxing legend and a star of the big screen). Gleason's has been operating out of DUMBO since 1984 and Bruce Silverglade has been the corner-man of Gleason's operations since 1985.

What is the current state of boxing in New York City?
Professional boxing in New York City is not in a very good state right now. Promoters put on small shows with maybe 6-8 bouts at a time which gives about 16 boxers at most. This is really not enough to entice fighters into gyms and to really develop top ten fighters. Amateur fighting is starting to get better. It's been on an upswing in about the last year-and-a-half. There are more shows going on, which gives more experience to fighters which helps them rise in the rankings.

As far as boxing as  a workout for working professionals [white-collar boxing], it is more popular now than it has ever been. Most gyms that you can name have a section in them that pertain to the sport of boxing. Though it's on a smaller level, it is an introduction to boxing and then many of them "graduate" to real fight gyms like Mendez Boxing Gym in the City or here at Gleason's.

What is the appeal of White Collar Boxing?
White Collar Boxing, which started here at Gleason's about 22 years ago, was created because businessmen and women had the desire to train in the boxing gym and it's a very repetitious and rewarding type of training. People get very addicted to the sport of boxing. It's a very mental type of sport as well as a very physical sport, so your body gets in good shape. It gives those interested in boxing an opportunity to actually compete and spar in front of an audience. However, White Collar Boxing in the state of New York was barred about 4 years ago, and I've been campaigning in Albany to change that. Currently, there is Master Boxing, which is essentially White Collar Boxing, but the difference is that there is a decision rendered in Masters Boxing, when there is no decision in White Collar.

What do you see as the most important virtue in a successful fighter (pro, amateur, or white collar)?
Boxing entirely is a completely virtuous sport. There is no presumption in boxing. You're going one-on-one versus another person. if you did everything you were supposed to do and you listened to your trainer, you'll do well. If you were untrue to your trainer and everyone else, you will not win. The sport is pure. It doesn't matter what level you fight at, what you have inside you is the same. Boxers need to be virtuous to be successful.

What are your thoughts on MMA? Do you see it having any impact on Boxing?
Well, MMA is a fill-in. What I mean by that is boxing is not offering the public anything that they want. We do not have an abundance of quality fighters. The few good fighters that are out there are not in the same weight classes, so they cannot compete with each other. So, because the sport of boxing isn't giving the public what they want, MMA is becoming a popular sport. However, it would still be secondary to boxing if and when we turn around and give [boxing fans] something they want to watch.

What is your best boxing-related memory in DUMBO?
About two years ago, Muhammad Ali came to Gleason's to do a photo shoot. Because of his condition, instead of bringing him into the entrance on 77 Front Street, we brought him into the entrance at 45 Main Street to get the elevator. As his limousine was approaching, they called me to meet him. As I was waiting for him to get out of the limo, a young woman on the sidewalk on her phone, surprised to see who was getting out of the limo, tried to start excitedly explaining to the person on the other end what was happening. Before she could finish her sentence, Ali came around from the car, put his hand on her shoulder, took the phone from her hand and explained to the person on the other end who he was. I just thought that was a really terrific story. A really great event.

For more information on Bruce and Gleason's Gym, check out their website or stop into the gym at 77 Front Street.

(Photo via Agaton Strom)