Outside the Ring: Bruce Silverglade

By Jill Diamond on September 21, 2014
Outside the Ring: Bruce Silverglade
There are Gleason’s all over the world, but none look and feel like the one in Brooklyn.

“There are hundreds of stories that are worth talking about and relating to the world. One of my favorites is about Muhammad Ali…”

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

Doesn’t everyone know Bruce Silverglade, or is that just my imagination? He’s one of the worst-kept secrets in boxing; a humble and altruistic man, but no dummy. He took over Gleason’s from Ira Becker, and turned Ira’s house into boxing’s destination dynasty. There are now Gleason’s Gyms all over the world, but none look, smell and feel like the one in Brooklyn. That’s where Bruce and several champion boxers work out, and afterwards, simply hang-out. Then there’s the movie shoots, the TV shows, the art displays, and low and behold, the nights that blend classical music, children and boxing. Who would’ve thunk? Add to this, the amateur competitions, where people who fly in from faraway places, like Africa and Australia, come to “put up their dukes.” Add to that the Give a Dream Foundation, where proud parents witness their shy kids turn into confidant ones. So, if there was ever a guy named Gleason (which I think there was) I’m sure he’d be proud to share his name with Bruce, a quiet man who makes a lot of noise promoting events that benefit kids and the community. Gleason’s Gym? Blood, sweat, tears and a heart!

Tell me about your acquisition of Gleason’s.

I was working for Sears Roebuck and Co. for sixteen years. I was a manager with a big staff and lots of responsibilities. The salary was good. I hated every minute of it. For fun I got involved with amateur boxing in New York. Eventually, I became the President of the New York chapter. As President I often visited the local gyms. One day I walked into Gleason’s Gym and was casually talking the Ira Becker, the owner of the gym. He mentioned that he was looking for a partner. That was all I had to hear, the next day I went to Sears and resigned, I took my profit sharing and purchased 50% of Gleason’s Gym.

When did you realize it was not only a gym but also a platform to do good work?

Gleason’s Gym is more than a boxing gym. It is a community center. The members bring their families and friends to the gym to watch what is happening and to hang out. In addition to training 133 World Champions, we have been involved with 26 full length motion pictures, every New York based TV program and hundreds of other projects. Gleason’s Gym is a fun place to train.

What activities do you sponsor?

Gleason’s Gym sponsors an annual Fantasy Boxing Camp, an annual art show during the DUMBO Art Festival, and Classical music concerts for children. Our most special project is the nonprofit foundation, Give a Kid a Dream.

Boxing flourishes at Gleason’s. What motivates you to provide these extra services to the community?

Because of this, we have to give something back to the boxing community. It is fun introducing the boxing people to art and music. The GAKAD foundation is a way that troubled kids that cannot afford to join a gym can take advantage of the wonders of boxing.

What is it in your background that keeps this dream alive?

I grew up in a household full of sports people and athletes. My father started the Police Athletic League in Trenton, New Jersey. I witnessed, firsthand, how sports and especially boxing helped hundreds of kids in my father’s program. I want to keep this wonderful miracle going.

Who has inspired you?

My father is my hero and my inspiration.

Who’s let you down?

No one has let me down. There have been some disappointments but not because the persons did not try.

Why is this important to the community?

Boxing gyms are very important to the community that uses them. Most people in boxing come from the lower social economic areas. They use the gym as their community centers. It is the gym that they can afford and the gym that they can relate to. The boxers bring in their relatives and friends. Many bring in their babies. This is the place where many hope to raise to better places. It is inspirational to them.

A story you’d like to share?

There are hundreds of stories that are worth talking about and relating to the world. One of my favorites is about Muhammad Ali. He was visiting the gym for a photo shoot. I decided to have him arrive through my back door where I have an elevator. As his limo approached and pulled curbside, a young lady was walking down the street talking on her cell phone. She stopped and gasped as Ali approached her, reached for her cell phone and starting talking to the person on the other end of the call.

A person you’d like to thank?

I would like to thank my late partner, Ira Becker. He allowed me to buy into the gym and realize my dream.

How do you see the future?

The future of Gleason’s Gym is bright. There are more people training in boxing gyms today than ever before. I think this trend will continue as more and more people realize the great benefits, both mental and physical of the boxing gym.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as an honest businessman that helped as many people as I could.

Outside the Ring: David Berlin
Outside the Ring: Sam Hadfield
Outside the Ring: Steve Farhood
Outside the Ring: Kathy Duva
Outside the Ring: Comanche Boy
Outside the Ring: Margaret Goodman
Outside the Ring: Allen Furst
Outside the Ring: Lonnie and Muhammad Ali
Outside the Ring: Bruce Silverglade

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  1. Frank Burchette 03:04pm, 09/23/2014

    Outstanding article Jill and Bruce a narrator.
    Loved it!!!

  2. peter 05:56pm, 09/22/2014

    Jill—another enjoyable article. Refreshing with a unique slant. Keep them coming. (If you haven’t already seen it, google “The 23 Steps to Boxing Enlightenment”.

  3. jill diamond 05:16pm, 09/22/2014

    I agree with you, Peter. You said it better than I did. He is awesome.

  4. peter 09:40am, 09/22/2014

    “Gleason’s Gym is more than a boxing gym. It is a community center.” I love that line uttered by Bruce Silverglade. While Gleason’s continues to be the most famous boxing gym in NYC—if not the planet—you’d better be in shape if you train there because Gleason’s, like any good boxing gym,  is a harsh critic and metes out instant judgment. Indeed, within the walls of Gleason’s, there continues to be a tradition of fierce excellence.  Still, after many decades, fighters visiting NY, seek out Gleason’s to train.  However, as a community center, Gleason’s is not a harsh critic and does not hand down instant judgment. Bruce welcomes everyone with open arms. With his vision, the gym has grown to be more than a mere boxing gym. Locals are proud, and encouraged, to be affiliated with Gleason’s. Gleason’s has hosted weddings, art shows, jazz and classical concerts, boxing camps, and so much more. Gleason’s is a diamond in the rough. (No pun intended regarding the author of another fine Boxing.com article.)

  5. Bob Mladinich 12:15am, 09/22/2014

    Bruce is one of the finest people you will ever meet, in or out of boxing. Truly a global ambassador, not only for the sweet science, but for humanitarianism, altruistic endeavors and just plain, old-fashioned doing the right thing.  His word is his bond and if you tell him something in confidence, it’s in the vault. A wonderful man.

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