Gleason’s Gym: Train Where Legends Walked

History, mixed with modern facilities, all wrapped up with a Rocky Balboa, blood, sweat and tears vibe, makes Gleason’s a must-stop for boxing fans and trainers.

Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York holds a reputation as one of the most recognizable and iconic boxing gyms in not just the United States, but across the world. Ever since it opened the doors in 1937 a who’s who of boxing royalty have crossed the threshold to train in this famed establishment. Legendary former middleweight champion and star of the Raging Bull movie, Jake LaMotta, regularly used the gym, as did ferocious heavyweight Mike Tyson.

Another heavyweight, Gerry Cooney, was there for a time and tragic Cuban national Benny Paret was an active resident when he passed away after a brutal war with Emile Griffith. Muhammad Ali based himself in Gleason’s prior to the first Sonny Liston fight, Roberto Duran used the facilities at a point and Paulie Malignaggi has enjoyed spells there during his successful career.

Currently owned by Bruce Silverglade, Gleason’s is located in the heart of Brooklyn after surviving a few changes of venue throughout its existence. One of the gym’s elite trainers is a former two-time world champion and outstandingly talented fighter called Joan Guzman. The quality of coaching on hand is a key feature of the gym, with vastly experienced trainers, including former Olympians and world champions, available for personal coaching sessions. Mark Breland, Carlos Ortiz, Juan LaPorte and Raul Frank work alongside respected local luminaries like Leon ‘Cat’ Taylor, Dennis Milton and ‘Big’ John Douglas. There is also a strong emphasis on female fighters, ably represented by Heather Hardy, Keisher McLeod and Alicia Ashley.

More recently, at a press conference for Carl Frampton’s first fight with Leo Santa Cruz, a current Gleason’s fighter, Gabriel Bracero, stood up and praised the influence and loyalty of expert coach Tommy Gallagher for training and mentoring him after a tough spot in his life and career.

Gallagher is an old school veteran of the sport. Boasting decades of boxing experience, the tough New Yorker has worked in the corner with countless contenders and a fair few champions of differing degrees over the years. The likes of Andre Berto, Lou Savarese, Merqui Sosa and Vito Antuofermo have all benefited from Tommy’s tutelage.

There is a strong Irish-American theme that runs through the heart of Gleason’s. Founder Peter Gagliardi was a lower-weight boxer in the 1930s who changed his name to Bobby Gleason to appeal to New York’s strong Irish population.

Many movie studios, photographers, commercial enterprises, television and media outlets use the gym as the perfect boxing backdrop when required for their projects. Hilary Swank trained there during the Million Dollar Baby movie that she won an Oscar for. Similar to brands like Everlast and Wild Card, the Gleason’s merchandise is often seen clinging to the sweaty backs of all level of pugilists, around the world, on a daily basis.

There are various structured monthly and weekly packages (a little on the pricey side, some users have remarked) for fitness enthusiasts, amateur boxers, spectators and even wrestlers. Yes, Gleason’s gym is where WWE Hall-of-Famer Johnny Rodz has been training wrestling aspirants and seasoned campaigners for over 50 years. Lifetime membership and single daily workouts are also options so everyone is catered for – from the one-time visitor to a regular user of the facilities.

They run a veterans program, an International Masters Tournament and a program for those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Monthly boxing shows offer an opportunity for amateur boxers to keep their skills sharp.

There is a quote on the walls of the gym (originally written down in lore by the great Roman poet Virgil) that offers a concise summation of the spirit and ethos of the club: “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.

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