The annual Gleason’s Gym Fantasy Boxing Camp opens this week on Thursday, August 23 and runs through Sunday. I’ve meant for years to write something about the camp. After meeting Gleason’s Gym owner Bruce Silverglade at the gym in Brooklyn in the fall of 2004, I let myself get talked into attending the 2005 camp as an observing writer. Attendance was a stretch for me and I was thankful to get a break from Bruce because I attended solely as a writer, but then I was unable to sell an article on the event. That was four years before launching this web site and a total of seven years ago, but there are still good memories I can share with you and it’s a worthy activity for readers to know about.
The camp was always at Kusher’s Resort in the Catskill Mountains town of Monticello. At its new location of Honors Haven Resort and Spa, Gleason’s Fantasy Camp includes intense boxing discussion, daily training sessions with World Champion and Hall of Fame boxers, and a sparring show on the last night. In 2005 the Champions attending the camp were former World Welterweight Champion and 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Breland; former WBC Featherweight Champion Juan Laporte; former Lightweight Champion Carlos Ortiz; former Welterweight and Middleweight Champion Emile Griffith; former Middleweight Champion Vito Antuofermo; and former Light Heavyweight Champion Matthew Saad Muhammad. Also there was up and coming contender Yuri Foreman, who within a few short years would be WBA Junior Middleweight Champion.
At the time I was helping Dennis Presley train1996 National Police Athletic League Welterweight Champion Raul Gracia of St. Paul to fight professionally. Carlos Ortiz was kind enough to call Gracia on my mobile phone and leave a message to his fellow native Puerto Rican in Spanish wishing him luck as he made his professional debut that Saturday night. Gracia won his fight by knockout and was appreciative of having the legendary Champion wish him luck. (Gracia’s career lasted till the end of 2006 and he finished with a 7-1 record.) I have to add that Mrs. Ortiz is one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met. I also greatly appreciated conversing with all the other champions there, and particularly am grateful for having befriended Breland, with whom I’ve been privileged to have good conversations during subsequent trips to New York. (See interview and story on King of the Ring Page)
The Fantasy Camp will be logistically unrealistic for those just discovering it through my mention. But as the camp continues in coming years it is worth the price for those who wish to personally familiarize themselves with some of the best boxers and trainers in the sport.
© Copyright Mark Connor, 2012