The owner of the world's most famous boxing gym reveals what Muhammad Ali was like

  • Bruce Silverglade is the owner of Gleason’s Gym, arguable the world’s most famous boxing gym
  • He has a lot of stories from working with boxing’s biggest stars
  • Silverglade spent a lot of time with Muhammad Ali during the final days of career and called him a “typical boxer”

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali may have passed away last year, but he is far from forgotten at Gleason’s Gym, arguably the world’s most famous boxing gym.

As a mecca of boxing for more than 60 years, Gleason’s was usually Ali’s gym of choice when he came to New York to train. All over the gym are photos of Ali’s biggest moments in boxing.

Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason’s, didn’t take over the gym until 1983, but he was involved in its operations in the years before, which coincided with Ali’s last comeback bid in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Silverglade got to know and watch Ali as he trained at Gleason’s for his final fight versus Jamaican-Canadian boxer Trevor Berbick. Silverglade said that the best way he could explain who Ali was is that he was a “typical boxer,” meaning that no matter how famous he got, he was always humble and down-to-earth.

Here’s how Silverglade explained it in a recent interview with Business Insider:

Ali was the most well-known name in the world. You could go into any country in the world say “Ali” and people would know him. Forget Trump or Lebron. People knew Ali.

With that in mind, he would come into the gym and he made a point of saying hello to every person in the gym. Every kid, every adult, every woman, every man. He would acknowledge and talk to them or give them a hug and a kiss. He was always a jokester. He would flick you in the ear or pull things out of his hat. He would work with you and talk to you.

Try going up to a New York Yankee. A normal person can’t get that close to a person like that. Boxers are different. It doesn’t matter how much fame they get. They come from the people. Ali was like that.

GleasonsTour (31 of 39)Harrison Jacobs/Business InsiderThere are lots of photos and memorabilia of Muhammad Ali in Gleason’s Gym.

Things were different once Ali started training however, according to Silverglade. While Ali was usually a “jokester,” he would become very “concentrated,” and serious.

“When he trained, he trained hard,” said Silverglade. “He was very dedicated. That’s why he was able to back up what he said. He had self-confidence, but he worked at it. If you want to be a champion, you have to take an extra step. That’s what Ali did.”

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