Knocked out! Legendary Dumbo boxing gym Gleason’s leaving 31-year-old location

Knocked out! Legendary Dumbo boxing gym Gleason’s leaving 31-year-old location
Associated Press / Sean Kilpatrick

It is punching out!

Legendary Dumbo boxing mecca Gleason’s Gym has to move from its hallowed Front Street home of 31 years because its landlord wants the space back, and will relocate a block away in a few months.

The gritty local landmark has forged a legion of champions and appeared in countless films and television shows over the past three decades — and just last week hosted a training session with Canadian Prime Minister and pugilist enthusiast Justin Trudeau — but its longtime owner says he is happy to roll with the punches and start fresh in the new location nearby.

“There’s a lot of history that will just move over to the next place — it’s just another part of Gleason’s history,” said Bruce Silverglade, who has owned the 79-year-old gym — the oldest in the country — for 30 years. “Last week we had Prime Minster Trudeau, and in the new space we’ll have another prime minister.”

Developer Two Trees, which owns the building between Washington and Main streets, says it is moving the second-story fighter factory across the street a ground-floor space on Washington Street. Silverglade says it is to make room for a new project, though he doesn’t know what it is.

The gym first opened in the Bronx in 1937, and has since moved three time, with legends including Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and Jake LaMotta gracing its canvas.

But Silverglade says another move is no sweat — the landlord has always treated him well, giving him reduced rent during tough times, and he doesn’t mind returning the favor.

“It’s their space and they’ve been very, very good to me, so if I can help them by moving I’m happy to do so,” said Silverglade, who found out about the move around three months ago, and is expecting to actually relocate in July or August.

Punching on: Legendary boxing gym Gleason’s is moving a half-block away to a new ground floor location to make way for developer Two Trees to complete an unknown project.
Photo by Jason Speakman

The new incarnation — Gleason’s fourth — will be smaller than the current space, though Silverglade said the extra square footage will come out of the offices, not the gym floor, which will be the same size.

And Silverglade says the gym’s fighters and clientele are happy to move to some less beaten-down digs — especially new locker rooms, which will be a much-needed upgrade from the antiques currently serving the sluggers.

“My space after 31 years has been run down, and particularly the showers and the bathrooms aren’t as nice,” Silverglade said. “Everybody is happy, because it is going to be new.”

Silverglade said the only real drawback is relocating all of the equipment and memorabilia Gleason’s has accumulated over the years. He will need to maneuver five rings — held together by heavy slabs of metal — punching bags, weights, and cardio equipment, along with dozens of pictures and posters to the new digs.

But the boxing bigwig said there is plenty of spare muscle around the gym to help with the heavy lifting, and he is confident everyone will enjoy the end results.

“It will get done and when it’s all over, I’m going to look back and say, ‘Wow, what a nice change,’ ” he said.

Two Trees has been playing musical chairs with many of its Dumbo properties of late — last year, the developer dispersed the galleries at 111 Front St. throughout its many other neighborhood buildings, and it will soon relocate bookstore PowerHouse Arena from its 10-year-old home at Main and Water streets two blocks away to Adams and Water streets.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Ringside: Felix Angeles trains in one of the gym’s five rings. Silverglade said the fighters and trainers will be tasked with moving the heavy metal slabs that make up the fight boxes.
Photo by Jason Speakman