We count down to the 15th annual Gleason’s Fantasy Camp, the gathering which offers “campers” the opportunity to get acquainted with and learn from all-star level fighters and trainers, as well as get a feel what it’s like to do one of those prototypical training camps such as the ones Muhammad Ali used to do.
Aug. 10 is day one for the latest installment, which unfolds at the Honor’s Haven resort, up north a bit from New York City. Bruce Silverglade, the owner-proprietor of the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym, located in DUMBO, Brooklyn, put together this concept after business softened post 9-11. It has been going gangbusters since.
NYF has reached out to campers who have attended and will attend again; in this piece, we chat up Gary Klein, and get into his head. What does he expect to get out of this Fantasy Camp, and why does he box?
“At the age of 60,” Klein told me, “several stars seem to have aligned for me, leading me to discover boxing as the best sport for me. I recently had both my hips replaced in India, making running harder and eliminating running any more NYC marathons. I was not a huge boxing fan, but for two years prior to taking up the sport, I was mesmerized by the workout a boxer conducted in a ring at Bally’s gym while I exercised on the elliptical machine and watched him work out. His intensity, conditioning and coordination were much more fun to watch than the TV screen attached to the elliptical. And boy, he looked mean. Outside the ring however, he was the nicest guy, very humble, and approachable. Come to think of it, every sport I ever seriously pursued started with my admiring the intensity and commitment of another athlete in that sport that I watched close-up. This was how I came to take up wrestling in my youth, and running in my middle years.”
Klein is now 63, and resides in Philly. He told me more about his entry into boxing.
“My father was not an athlete, so I didn’t get direction there, but I started each sport taking tiny baby steps and would see gradual improvement. My first boxing baby step was a female-led boxing cardio class, and the instructor encouraged me and would test my reactions by randomly yelling out numbers 1-6 which represented different punches. Now I am both a boxing fan and participant, and particularly like going to the Philadelphia Golden Gloves regional competitions, where I live. My wife and kids (son a HS teacher and track coach, daughter a D.C. policy advocate for the Homeless), don’t fully understand my passion for boxing, but are 100% behind me, because they see me happier and more fit.”
Good stuff; you can hear more about why boxing is a net positive to this planet, when Silverglade appears on the next edition of the Everlast “TALKBOX” podcast.
Klein continued: “When I got the nerve to walk into a real boxing gym to start some serious boxing (Must Fight Boxing Club in Chester, PA, near Philadelphia, which was Mighty Mick’s gym in the movie Creed,) I was starting at the very bottom of the totem pole, and I think no one there expected me to last long due to my age. But I was nurtured properly, one punch and slip at a time by a patient, yet firm trainer who treated me like the younger guys and threw me in the ring with them to spar on occasion. After a while, seeking someone my age to box with, I reached out to Gleason’s at the advice of my trainer. Bruce Silverglade told me about the 2016 summer camp in the Catskills, and I somehow convinced my fiancé to come with me. The camp was great, we were treated like family, but many of the sessions with the pros were like taking statistics for the first time. It was all extremely valuable and making good sense, but it was hard to synthesize into proper boxing technique upon initial exposure.”
And what were some of his top takeaways from that first camp outing? “Highlights of camp included personal training tips and fun interactions with smiling Juan Laporte, Big Al, Jacklyn, and the ageless wonder Alicia Ashley, who dances in the ring with elegance. Sonya the Scholar Lamonakis taught me what it feels like to receive a hard hook in the ring, but I caught her with a hard cross as well, and didn’t die from her blow or feel anything like a concussion. That experience, and a sparring session with a younger, heavier fellow attendee, convinced me that despite my remaining flaws (which I’m still working on – KEEP THE LEFT HAND UP GARY!), I can actually compete without making a fool of myself or getting hurt!”
Klein is headed back to the Fantasy ring to take another swing come Aug. 10-13.
“So, this August (I convinced my 87 year old mother to join me and my wife as well), it will be like taking intermediate statistics (which I teach and apply in a public health setting), where I’ll be reinforcing the basics and learning new tricks of the trade,” he said. “ My fantasies of being a champ will be reinforced by getting photographed during boxing action to make me look better than I am, eating very well with good boxing company, enjoying the spa, socializing and working out with other adult and camp youth boxers…..in short, I’ll be in boxing heaven.”
Superbly stated; get more info on how you can join Klein, and change your life, right here.