Remember Hillary Swank beating punching bags in the Academy Award winning film “Million Dollar Baby”? Then you know Gleason’s Gym, which has been closed since March because of coronavirus.
As a well-recognized name to those in the boxing world, Gleason’s Gym, located in Brooklyn, N.Y., was established in 1937 during the Golden Age of boxing. It’s long been a home to many title-winning boxers: Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Jake LaMotta, Sonny Liston, and Mike Tyson, just to name some of the many.
Now as the sport resumes in some parts of the country, boxers want to train in their traditional setting. As the president of the gym, Bruce Silverglade, put it during his interview with Yahoo Finance, “in the sport of boxing, unlike other sports, your health is very, very important. If you’re not in condition, you actually can get killed in a ring.”
Gleason’s Gym is unique, with a license to train professional boxers as well as being able to function as a gym for other, non-professional clientele. It’s the word “gym” that keeps it from reopening.
New York City entered Phase 4 of its reopening on July 20, but there’s still no indoor dining, no malls, no movie theaters and, certainly, no gyms. With no guidance and no regulations from the government on how to re-open, the gym is forced to remain closed.
“I’ve written every politician in the state of New York. I’ve written the borough president,” Silverglade said. “I’ve gotten zero response. Zero.”
This makes the problem two-fold for Silverglade. Not only is there no word on reopening, but professional boxers in New York are at a distinct disadvantage: “Promoters from outside New York are asking for New York fighters to compete in their shows because they know they are not in condition and not ready. So fighters under their contract have a distinct advantage fighting a New York fighter,” he said.
Like many small businesses amid the pandemic, Silverglade has been struggling with maintaining the gym. Dumbo, the part of Brooklyn where Gleason’s is, is an expensive area with high rent, and operating expenses haven’t stopped.
The pandemic and economic shutdown have “been disastrous,” he said. “I’ve had an empty gym and zero income coming in.”
With no light at the end of the tunnel for his business or his boxers, Silverglade said, for the moment, “I’m just dead in the water.”