Gleason’s Gym owner makes powerful case for NY boxing reopening
It is the famous Brooklyn gym where the likes of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson and Jake LaMotta and Roberto Duran have trained, and it is itching to get back on its feet after being floored by the coronavirus pandemic.
Bruce Silverglade has owned Gleason’s Gym for 38 years, and while he recognizes there are more important issues unfolding in the city and in the state and in the country, he believes that the boxers there — in particular the pros — and trainers are victims of a sports injustice.
Silverglade cites Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.3, which states: “Any gym, fitness centers or classes, and movie theaters shall also cease operation effective at 8 pm on March 16, 2020 until further notice,” and says:
“I’m not trying to get into a fight with the government, ’cause in the long run, I’ll lose. I just want to say I think that Gleason’s Gym is an exception, and somebody should give me their ear, and listen to what I have to say.
“The Executive Order is very broad and should have a review process for exceptions to the broad-based plan. I do not think Gleason’s Gym should be included with New York Sports Clubs or yoga studios.”
Silverglade slams a left hook into the idea that the Brooklyn Nets, about two miles from him in Prospect Heights, are allowed individual practice workouts for no more than four players at a time.
“I have professional players that want to prepare for professional boxing matches,” Silverglade told The Post. “Somebody should listen to the fact that professional fighters are not able to train where all the other professional athletes are.”
Junior welterweight Mikkel LesPierre is training outdoors with trainer Joan Guzman at Bronx River Park for a June 18 bout in Las Vegas against Jose Pedraza.
“I haven’t been able to hit a speed bag or a heavy bag or a double-end bag or use a ring,” LesPierre told The Post, “so everything that I’m doing now to prepare for this fight I’ve had to kinda recreate in my own way with whatever’s around me.”
To simulate the ring mat, LesPierre, 35, moves to a turf track near Gun Hill Road. “Instead of hitting the heavy bag, we will take like a body shield and we’ll strap it to a tree and then we hit the body shield that attaches to the tree,” LesPierre said.
Professional trainer Don Saxby, who is trying to make ends meet as an artist and cartoonist, was forced to file for unemployment. He trained Usher for his Sugar Ray Leonard role in “Hands of Stone.” He was training one of his fighters at an outdoors park on Cadman Plaza and Tillery St.
“Now that I know that gyms are opening up for professional athletes, my guys are professional athletes as well,” Saxby told The Post. “Why can’t we get extended the same courtesy, seriously?”
Silverglade estimates that there are 50 professional boxers at Gleason’s, and 12-20 trainers who train them, and 92 trainers in total.
“I don’t think a professional fighter should be discriminated against because he doesn’t have the representation,” Silverglade said.
Elite amateur boxers are also taking a mandatory eight count.
“New York amateurs are at quite a disadvantage,” Silverglade said. “There are national championships that are coming up later in the year, and if you’re in another state, you’re allowed to train and prepare for it. If you’re a New York City boxer, you can’t train and so you’re certainly gonna be at a disadvantage if you want to fight for a national championship, which represents the United States on some sort of international competition.”
Silverglade foresees no problem abiding by current recommended health protocols and an audience-free environment.
“It would be easy to police because professional fighters are licensed by the NYSAC and have been issued federal IDs. I can provide a reopening plan that will fully satisfy the department of health,” Silverglade said.
Gleason’s opened in 1937 and boasts that it has trained 136 world champions.
“I want to open, I want to open as soon as I can, so if it’s a first step to opening that I can only have pro fighters, that’s what I’m basically trying to do,” Silverglade said.
Silverglade has been unable to reach anyone at the governor’s office, but vows to keep punching.
“It’s just the principle of it,” he says. “Why is a professional fighter not as good as a professional basketball player, or a professional baseball player?”
Down … but not out.
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