Boxing as therapy, as means to an end for purposes other than accumulating titles and wealth…
It is a constant in this world, and, frankly, should be even more prevalent than it is, because it is cheaper and probably more effective, if you can handle the occasional black eye, than sitting on a couch and blathering on about how mean mom was.
Boxing as therapy occurs on a daily basis at the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym, the fight factory/head-shrinking facility in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Alan McGrath is a convert, and will once again be hitting the NY insitution to test his mettle, and derive other benefits, when he attends the master’s tourney at Gleason’s, which runs June 14-17.
It is the third annual, put together by gym boss Bruce Silverglade (below).
Now, truth be told by McGrath, he was on the fence about attending this one…
“I am having second thoughts,” the Illinois resident told me.
Oh, why so?
“I’m 1-4 in boxing, 1-5 if you count MMA.” But, as I told him, he is to be commended for soldiering on, for continuing the quest, for self improvement, for fitness and wellness, despite that..
“I have a job helping to write safety standards for Underwriters Laboratories Inc.,” he continued. “I reside in Glenview, Illinois and I am a standards engineer/project manager. I am single and 55, 6'4″, 270 lbs. and I won my last fight in Lake County, IL, at the Libertyville based Lake Couny Athletic and Boxing Club.”
He stopped the streak!
“I lost my previous four fights at: 1) Ringside boxing in Coconut Creek, Fl, at Strike Gym in 2015; 2) at a masters tournament at Gleason’s; 3) at a Ringside event in Kansas City; 4) and one in Lake County. I just got back from a seven day BJJ cruise!”
The man is all in, it seems. (Indeed; he has a heavy bag in his living room, I saw a pic!) I asked him to tell me how he got started.
“I started boxing at the UFC gym in Wrigleyville about three years ago. Still a member but I also joined Ben Rothwell's gym in Kenosha, WI. I mostly work out at the fitness center at work. I’m single, no kids, lots of time on my hands. I used to lift as a masters Olympic weight lifter. I competed at Lost Battalion in Queens, in GA, and in Vegas. I built up my back doing that and when MMA got big I thought a strong back would be a plus… but BJJ is hard. Cardio is also hard at 55 and that is why they limit our rounds to one minute or two minutes.”
And what has this fighting life, this immersion into boxing, brought you?
“It has kept my waistline under control,” McGrath continued. “Since I need a doctor’s approval, and since he will only sign the USA Boxing form if I take high blood pressure medicine, I guess I am healthier! And I have a better appreciation of what the best boxers have to go through!”
Has he always been a boxing fan?
“Yes, all my life. I actually got to see Tommy Hearns working out in Vegas a week before the 1985 fight against Marvin Hagler when my mom took me there as a college graduation present. He was sparring in the Vegas heat behind Caesar’s Palace with three sparring partners.”
Now, if you don’t mind, I am still curious—why really are you on the fence about going to this master’s session June 14-17 at Gleason’s? “It hurts to get punched in the face,” McGrath admitted. “I have not been sparring with anyone. I need to work on my skills more. I also have to take three days off work to go and it ain't cheap.”
But he will pull the trigger…And he will be the better for it. I told him so, and gave him a verbal clap on the back. He is in the arena..tasting the sweat…shedding the blood…blowing off the easier path, the one most of us take…and he deserves our applause. 1-4, no matter. Alan McGrath is winning.