For the past sixteen years, Gleason’s Gym program “Give a Kid a Dream” has provided children from disadvantaged backgrounds a place to come and develop themselves both physically and mentally through the sport of boxing. Currently the program is supported by Gleason’s itself and the efforts of individual personal trainers, who volunteer their time or substantially discount their rates in order to help the children. Gleason’s believes this program is worthwhile as evident in their average referral retention rate of 75% and would like to request funds from your corporation to improve and expand the program so that more children may benefit.
The program primarily serves children ages 13 to 18. Some exceptions may be made for children immediately under or just over those ages on a case-by-case basis, however most participant’s fall into the 13 to 18 age group.
The Referral Process
Participants, who start as referrals, are referred to the program primarily through the courts, churches, or schools. On occasion, Gleason’s allows parents to directly approach the gym to request that their child enter the program. Included is a list of sources from which Gleason’s has accepted referrals and information on successful participants.
Once referred, Gleason’s provides the participants with a membership to the gym along with basic equipment for them to start training. Gleason’s also selects a professional trainer for the participant to work with.
The participants are required to show up at the gym daily, Monday through Friday from 4pm to 6pm in order to stay in the program. During this two-hour session they undergo training that closely mirrors in content, the training that professional boxers undergo on a full-time basis. This training includes but is not limited to shadow boxing, sit-ups, rounds on the punching bags, eye-hand coordination exercises with a speed ball, moving drills, jump roping, and ultimately controlled sparring against peers in the program. Sparring is an optional exercise, not required for participation in the program.
Each trainer brings his or her past experience and training style to offer the participant a unique training experience aimed at helping the participant improve him or herself both mentally and physically.
Some participants enjoy the sport enough to compete outside of the program; however, this is not the goal of the program and a decision to do so is made solely by the participant who must take into account the normal tournament fees that accompany fighting outside of the program.
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF THE PROGRAM
The positive effects of the program can be measured in terms of the personal developments of its participants.
Like most sports, boxing requires discipline. Boxing is unique that it is in a category of sports that by their very nature demand a high level of discipline and focus. Successful participants of the program are those that are able to develop that discipline and focus and ultimately extend that discipline to other areas of their lives.
Confidence, Self Esteem and Respect
Sports in general offer a chance for children to be challenged and grow, developing confidence in themselves and in turn raising their self-esteem. Gleason’s program offers an environment where children will be challenged to participate in a very demanding sport and at the same time learn respect, not only for their peers that they train and compete with, but most importantly for themselves. Successful participants are the ones that through the program find new confidence in themselves through adopting the positive attitude necessary to endure and to be successful in the sport of boxing while at the same time developing respect for the sport and others both in and out of the ring.
Like most sports, boxing improves one’s health. Unlike most sports, boxing requires developing mind-body control and coordination to a level and in a manner that is unique to boxing. Through the program, participants are given the chance to improve their health. Successful participants are able to maintain their fitness throughout the duration of their training and outside of the gym also enjoy the benefits of being physically healthier. Boxing is also the perfect sport to fight the growing epidemic of obesity.
The Successful Participant
Success in the program is not measured by how well the participant learns to box, although if the participant takes the program seriously, he or she will at the very least improve their health and acquire solid foundational knowledge of the sport of boxing. Rather, success in the program is measured by how well a participant is able to develop themselves by discipline and focusing their mental and physical energy in a positive direction. This is the type of success that Gleason’s is most proud in recognizing because it is this type of success that leads the child to success not only in the gym, but more importantly, in life.
Benefits to the Community
Being a teenager is hard no matter where you are from. Our program serves this population. Not only are our participants teenagers, but due to the fact that our program’s participants are all referred to us from institutions that in some manner serve youth that come from underprivileged backgrounds and traditionally underrepresented populations, we are in a unique position to positively influence the youth that come through our doors.
Whether it is boxing, basketball, dancing, or playing chess, our goal, just like any other organizations with similar programs, is the same. We seek to give youth a chance to be challenged both mentally and physically, to channel their energy into an activity that will give them both confidence and respect for themselves and others, while at the same time keeping them off the streets and away from other influences that may have a negative effect on their journey through this critical stage of their life.
If it were true that most people give up because they don’t know the way and believe something is hopeless, then the answer would seem to be give them a way so they can find hope. Too often our youth are given ways, but those ways are rooted in fear and ignorance and many times violent and self-destructive. Our program seeks to give kids a dream, but what we really are giving is hope because not only can we give them a dream, we can give them the tools to achieve that dream. Our vision of the dream is not one to be a great boxer, but rather a great person. Through “Give a Kid a Dream”; we want our kids to have hope.
GLEASON’S GYM, INC.
Gleason’s Gym is the oldest active boxing gym in the United States. We have trained 131 World Champions, two Olympic Gold Medallists and hundreds of amateur champions. The current 15,000 square foot facility on Front Street sits in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Many great champions have plied their craft at Gleason’s Gym. Our first World Champion was Jake La Motta “The Raging Bull” and we crowned three new World Champions in 2006 alone.
Gleason’s Gym has become synonymous with boxing. Over the years the reputation of the champion boxers we have produced has earned Gleason’s Gym world-renowned appeal as the pinnacle of excellence in boxing.
BRUCE SILVERGLADE, PRESIDENT
Over the past 26 years, Bruce Silverglade has been busy keeping one of Brooklyn’s grandest traditions alive. He is the driving force behind Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, a boxing treasure since 1937.
The Silverglade name has been associated with boxing for over 60 years. Bruce’s father Edward was one of the founders of the National PAL. He also worked for the National Olympic Committee and was the team manager for the US Olympic teams of 1980 and 1984.
In 1976, Bruce found himself in the middle of a divorce and sought refuge in boxing. While one marriage ended, another one was just beginning. Silverglade caught the boxing bug and quit his job of 16 years with Sears Roebuck, and Company. He began refereeing and judging amateur bouts but because he liked “all” fighters he learned quickly that he could not be an impartial official. That’s when he turned to the administrative side of the sport.
From 1980 to 1985, Silverglade held some of the most prominent positions in Amateur Boxing. He was president of the Metropolitan Amateur Boxing Federation, a Chairman of the National Junior Olympic Committee and a member of the National Selection Committee.
By the mid 1980’s, Silverglade began devoting his efforts full-time to Gleason’s. In 1987 he started running Gleason’s Arena, which was located one block away from the gym. That lasted until 1990, but Silvergalde remained involved in the business side of boxing as a matchmaker and booking agent.
HECTOR ROCA: Currently ranked the number one Hispanic Trainer in the World. Hector is from Panama and represented his country at two Olympic games. He has trained over 15 World Champions.
BOB JACKSON: Bob retired after 35 years with the NYS Correctional Department. He established the prison boxing program at Sing Sing Prison where he was a Sergeant and the program is now State wide.
HARRY KEITT: Harry played himself in the boxing documentary “On the Ropes” which was nominated for an Academy Award in the year of 2000. Harry is an ex professional boxer that started his career at the Bed-Stuy Gym and spent the last ten years at Gleason’s. He has an exceptional record in the Amateur program where he has trained numerous Golden Glove Champions.
DAVID LAWRENCE: David is an ex Professional boxer and has been a trainer at Gleason’s Gym for the past the past ten years. David is the only boxing trainer in the United States with a PHD in English Literature. He has had several books published.
These are some of the 91 trainers at Gleason’s Gym. They all donate time and money to many under privileged and impoverished children that find their way into Gleason’s Gym.
Some of our referral sources:
Father Anthony - Local Priest
SOME OF OUR SUCCESS STORIES
BRUCE BOBBITT: A charter member of GAKAD. He was referred by his Mother. He trained throughout his school years and is now a successful EMT working for NYC.
ANDRE CHOLLETTE: Another one of our original group. He was referred by his Mother. He trained at Gleason’s for five years. He went on to College and became a varsity football player.
ANTHONY LIGGINS: A current member of the GAKAD team. He was referred by his Guidance Councilor. A good kid who was getting into trouble at school. He has turned himself around; his grades have improved and he is no longer getting into trouble.
SAL MANZO: Referred by his Mother. A young teen that was getting into trouble on the streets of Brooklyn. He became a good Junior Olympic Boxer and defeated a National Champion in one of his first bouts.
RAYMOND SMITH: Another youth that was in constant trouble. He trained at Gleason’s Gym and finished High School. He is currently serving in Iraq in the US Army.
YOREL WILSON: Referred to Gleason’s Gym by his Guidance Councilor. His grades improved, he stopped getting into trouble and finished High School. He is now attending a Junior College in NYC.