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Gleason’s Gym Will Soon Be Movin’ On Up (the Street)

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Pic of Gleason's bossman Silverglade by Woods

In six, maybe eight weeks, this is a Manhattan real estate issue, so maybe eight is the safer bet, the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym will be located in a new facility.

Not to worry, fans of history, those who revere and simply respect the past, for the way it provides perspective to the present, the joint will be but a stone’s throw from where it has existed for the last 31 years.

The new address, I was I informed today by boxing lifer Bruce Silverglade, the purveyor of the fight factory, which opened doors in 1937 to the masses who prefer fistic self analysis to a shrink’s couch, will be 130 Water Street. That is in the “DUMBO” section of Brooklyn, under and to the side of the Manhattan bridge.

In that space–the square footage is the same, Silverglade told me on a Thursday tour of the it-looks-to-be-almost finished new digs—there will be five rings, and a spiffy merch purchase station, and a spotless shower and lavatory section for guys and gals.

Uh oh.

Wait a minute.

Will something get lost in transition, in the move? There is a charm, which is more of a signifying aura, in the dotting of sweat stains, the Picasso patterns of blood droplets on the canvases, the welcoming message, which deters the dainty, to the nostrils when you walk up the stairs to gym.

“I intend to keep the bathrooms and showers clean at all times,” Silverglade said with an almost grin, “but the rest of the gym will have that same ambience, for all the photo shoots, the film shoots people do.”

So, no odor then? Maybe a hint?

“The odor will come,” he said, cracking a smile.

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Retaining the “charm,” making sure the new site doesn’t look or feel antiseptic, like everyone using the place is all about squirting Purell all over themselves if they come within three feet of another human, is important to Silverglade. He has a ten year lease, and is all about keeping all that’s good about this throwback treasure in place, as much as possible.

We chatted about what will stay the same and what could change. I asked if he’d get a sponsoring concessionaire to peddle snacks and such. Nah, Silverglade said, “Willie has been with me for 25 years.”

Silverglade has amateur shows here all the time, I had a thought that this new layout would lend itself to hosting the occasional pro show. Wouldn’t it make sense for a local dealmaker to play off that strong trademark, start an “up n comer” series spotlighting the young guns seeking to punch and scratch and claw their way up the combat ladder? Yes, said Silverglade, energized and looking summer fit, with a skin tone that suggested he’s not low on Vitamin D, he used to run shows open to pros, debuters mostly, fighting fours, he’s not opposed.

We strode to the entrance/exit, after he showed me a rear loading dock, which will make deliveries a breeze. The landlord is a decent guy, actually “fabulous,” he called him, and he also owns the 77 Front St building.

Good, I told Silverglade, we need that. If not, the only people who could afford rocketing rents would be banks and real estate offices. And when that happens, you can KO what’s left of the more ragged and humble charms in the city.

Yes, Gleason’s will keep on punching, people.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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