Last week Facilitator Kate Brown and I visited Gleason’s, one of the oldest boxing gyms in Brooklyn, and now we want to be boxers. Veronica Ordaz, the New York City Community Outreach Coordinator who set up the day of interviews, told me that after visiting the gym, she’d resolved to do the same thing. She told me she was convinced after meeting with Bruce, the owner of Gleason’s, who was also our first interview of the day.
It’s incredible to me how drawn I was to the place, considering how exclusively male I’ve always assumed boxing to be. And my assumptions were validated when we first walked in. Gleason’s looks like the set of an old movie (and is still used for shoots, Bruce told us), with sunlight streaming in through big dusty windows and punching bags that look like they could beat me in a fight.
We’d heard from Bruce how popular the gym had become with women, but I didn’t really understand it until we interviewed the female boxers, like Fire, an amateur world champion and long-time member of Gleason’s.
Fire told us about winning her first tournament (on her birthday), fighting someone who had never lost. She described how surprised she was to find her talent for the sport and how intimidated she had been at first. Fire is an actress, and before she started boxing was always hired to play “victim” roles. She told us that she now gets hired as stronger characters and credits it to her training.
Fire is also a self-described fashion-diva and was embarrassed to wear anything but dirty old sweats when she started training at Gleason’s. Now, with her many titles, she is always dressed up when she fights and works out. As we left, she was running on a treadmill proudly wearing a cute white tennis skirt, hot-pink bandanna, and Juicy Couture knee socks.