Gleason’s is a boxing gym located on the Brooklyn waterfront. Since 1937, when the gym was founded in the Bronx, boxers with their eyes on Olympic glory or a shot at the title have been training at Gleason’s. Fighters who trained at the gym include Jake LaMotta, Roberto Durán, Benny “Kid” Paret, Gerry Cooney, and Mike Tyson. Before his first title fight against Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, also trained at Gleason’s.
The gym was founded by Peter Gagliardi, a former bantamweight, who changed his name to Bobby Gleason. It moved to Manhattan and then to Brooklyn. Gleason’s is now owned by Bruce Silverglade.
Gleason’s is reminiscent of the time when New York was the center of the boxing universe, when there were dozens of serious gyms in the city and when big fights were often held in Madison Square Garden. Now Gleason’s is among the last of a breed. It manages to stay open by permitting average joes—men and women—to train side by side with professional boxers, and stages “White Collar Boxing” events that cater to this clientele.
There is also a wrestling school called the World of Unpredictable Wrestling run by WWE Hall of Fame member Johnny Rodz. Many wrestlers and wrestling promoters have come from there. Graduates include Tommy Dreamer, Matt Striker, Taz, D-Von Dudley and Vince Russo, Prince Nana, as well as Big Vito, Da Baldies, Elektra, Ricky Vega, The Musketeer, Mac Daddy Flexx, Tim Arson, Damien Demento, the late S.D. Jones, the late Rocco Rock, and many more.
There is a sign on the wall at Gleason’s, posting an invitation from the poet Virgil: “Now, whoever has courage, and a strong and collected spirit in his breast, let him come forward, lace on the gloves and put up his hands.” Prizefighters have long answered this call at Gleason’s and some still do. But now they’ve been joined by brokers and dentists.
There is an illustrated book called: “At Gleason’s Gym.” Owner Bruce Silverglade and Gleason’s elite trainer Hector Roca co-authored the book The Gleason’s Gym: total body boxing workout for women, with a foreword by actor Hilary Swank (she famously thanked Hector Roca when she received her Oscar for her role in the boxing movie “Million Dollar Baby.