Bob Jackson - Gleason's Gym King Of Hearts

Now that the rush to gush over Hillary Swank is over, it's time to take a look at the stalwart philospher king of boxing.

(PRWEB) April 21, 2005 -- Now that the rush to gush over Hillary Swank’s sojourn at Gleason’s has ebbed – what remains are the steadfast fixtures of this dusty, sweaty old warehouse gym. The grandest of them all is the 67 year old Bob Jackson, standing at 6’1”, with a sweeping shock of white hair in his trusty EVERLAST red silk shirt.

“I’ve known all my heroes, who’s lucky enough to say that?” The answer is; the hundreds of kids Jackson himself has trained over the years. He’s got all their plastic flip flops in piles under his desk and in corners of his never- once - been - cleaned office; the kids that made it off the streets and onto Wall Street, business, teaching, and the others who he had to watch get buried.

He’s loved them all and that’s why they’ll have to drag him out feet first. You see, he knows what makes them tick. He was the fifteen year old kid that got into trouble with a married woman, broke his mother’s heart and got sent to the Air Force when a lenient judge thought reform school wouldn’t do it.

Then off to Sing Sing as a corrections officer, where Jackson took his newly minted gift for mastering his own anger and transformed a bubbling over cauldron of 1800 seething maximum security prisoners into the place to go for some of the best in amateur boxing over the past fifty years. What he had done was start a program where he trained and matched convicts with their alter ego sparring mates in the outside world. He’d take a wimpy but skilled amateur and match him with a wild but unskilled convict, bouts that might have been a once in a lifetime meet-up, but bouts that nevertheless, triggered everlasting friendships that broke all barriers, where money was exchanged, support, hope.

“Punch up, punch down, never throw all your punches in the same place. The ideal fighter is the one who never looks away from his work, like a ballet dancer.”

The mere harshness of the sport, the loneliness of it when you’re alone in the ring is the very making of a man. “No one can fight for you when you’re up there.” At Gleason’s, he taps their stomachs to check their weight, and wraps their wrists for the millionth time. He watches them and guides them through the rough years if they let him, and tells them to park their egos and prejudices at the steel door of 83 Front Street, under the criss-crossing shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Boxing teaches you that life is just about being here, and getting through it without dragging anyone else down with you. Win or lose, it teaches the confidence you need outside the ring and that means not needing to obliterate anyone with your personal views.” Maybe he wears that EVERLAST silk as his mantra. He knows that deeply troubled kid who duked it out with his heart and mind and discipline, the one who stayed in the game. Bob Jackson will never leave Gleason’s because he considers himself to be one of the lucky ones who managed to figure it all out.

Alexandra Corbin e-mail protected from spam bots (full article available)

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