John E. Oden founded a program at the Archimedes Academy in Bronx, New York (grades 5-8), entitled “John E. Oden Boxing Scholars.” Combining boxing and academics, John E. Oden Boxing Scholars is the first-ever boxing program in the curriculum of the New York Public School System. He is the author of White Collar Boxing—One Man’s Journey From the Office to the Ring, Random House, 2005.
Today, boxing has three distinct categories of participation. The first is professional boxing, represented by the Oscar de la Hoya’s and the Lennox Lewis’s of the world—pros who fight for money. Fights can be staged for up to 12 three-minute rounds, with one minute in between rounds. Eight ounce gloves are used.
The second category is amateur boxing. There are two major formal organizations that exist at the amateur level, the Olympics and the Golden Gloves. Both professional and amateur boxing matches are always fought on a competitive level, with a winner and loser declared at the end of each fight.
The third category of boxing is white collar boxing, comprised of men and women who are businessmen, attorneys, accountants, doctors, office workers, policemen—“regular guys” who love the sport and use it to get into great shape and have fun. I refer to this activity as white collar boxing, since it is competitive but there is usually no winner or loser declared. White collar boxing can be found in athletic clubs, like the New York Athletic Club, and other private clubs around the country, and in certain boxing gyms throughout the world which promote white collar matches, like Gleason’s Gym.
The terms white collar boxing and white collar sparring are used interchangeably to refer to this particular subset of non-professional, non-amateur boxing. Contests are staged in local gyms and clubs around the world, and consist of three two-minute rounds, with one minute between rounds. Sixteen-ounce gloves are used. Again, no winner or loser is declared, and both participants normally receive an identical trophy at the end of the match.White collar boxing was conceived and implemented by Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn beginning in 1988, by the owner of the gym, Bruce Silverglade. I think of Bruce Silverglade as the godfather of white collar boxing. In 1988, Bruce, who has owned and run Gleason’s Gym for over 20 years, designed a monthly fight night.
No particular qualifications are set forth to participate in a white collar boxing match, as presently structured, although many gyms, including Gleason’s, require fighters to sign an acknowledgement that they are aware of the risks and will waive rights to bring legal action against the gym in the event of injury. Also, much attention is given to the capability and experience of each boxer, and matches are made on as competitive a basis as possible. In addition, the matches are closely referred and monitored, with the referee interfering with the match at the first sign of stress on the part of either participant. However, in a very real sense, white collar boxing is less organized than the other two categories.
There is pending legislation in New York State which will formalize the oversight of white collar boxing. A new organization has been formed called U.S. White Collar Boxing, which will provide oversight of white collar boxing, very similar to that provided to amateur boxing by USA Boxing. The approval of this proposed governing body for white collar boxing is pending with the New York State Senate and Assembly. If approved, this organization will regulate white collar boxing nationally, as currently envisioned by the bill which pending approval. Accordingly, white collar boxing is banned in New York State at present, until this regulatory body is approved and established. Ironically, white collar boxing is permitted in all other states in the U.S.
In addition to all of the activity in the U.S., white collar boxing has rapidly and successfully spread all over the world. In the U.K., white collar boxing is as popular as professional boxing. In the U.K., a promoter named Alan Lacey founded The Real Fight Club in 2000, following a match between a British team and an American team which was orchestrated by Bruce Silverglade and Alan Lacey at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. The Real Fight Club now sponsors regular competitions in the U.K., using in the format of black tie dinner parties, where a charity benefits from the evenings proceeds. These events have steadily increased in popularity over the years.
Now events are held by various groups in such locations as Germany, Dubai, Hong Kong, and other parts of the world. The future of white collar boxing is bright, and continues to gain momentum on a global basis.
The first task for someone who wants to participate in white collar boxing is to find a gym. A sample list of gyms around the country which offer white collar boxing is attached. It is suggested anyone interested in white collar boxing ask their local gym if there is a white collar boxing program. Many gyms around the country have regular white collar boxing matches, and these are available to anyone who wishes to participate in the sport.
If a gym in your city is not listed on the attached pages, it is suggested that you phone Bruce Silverglade at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York, to find a gym in your area in the United States. If you desire a gym in the U.K., it is suggested that you phone Alan Lacey at the The Real Fight Club in London. Both of these contact numbers can be found on the attached list.
Beginning a boxing regimen should be a relatively easy matter for anyone interested in the sport. There are many retired boxers who are willing to help in training for a reasonable fee. Their names can be obtained by almost any gym, whether or not the gym supports a boxing program.
A basic gym outfit is all that is needed initially to work out. With this, anyone can shadow box, jump rope, and work on basic movements in the ring. As one advances, bag gloves should be acquired, as well as boxing shoes. Then when someone begins to spar, a mouthpiece, headgear and leather athletic protector should be obtained. All of these can be obtained from local gyms, but can also be ordered from Ringside (www.ringside.com), or Everlast (www.everlast.com), as well as other reputable boxing supply houses.
Boxing is a sport with great camaraderie, and those who participate are very helpful and encouraging to newcomers to the sport. People who enjoy the sport want to share it with others. White collar boxers also enjoy having a good variety of sparring partners, so new faces in the gym are welcomed and treated with great respect. White collar boxers, as a general rule, are not out to “kill each other,” rather they are participating in the sport to get a good a workout, meet new people interested in the sport, and enjoy good camaraderie as they acquire new skills and make new friends. It is a most congenial sport, fostered by mutual respect and common goals. Yet it is a most challenging sport, and all who participate quickly recognize this as well and try to help each other.
I would rather be a white collar boxer than anything else, as far as athletics and physical fitness are concerned. In my opinion, there is simply nothing like the exhilaration of a boxing workout, which has terrific cardiovascular and aerobic benefits. Boxing has not only helped me stay in great physical shape, but it has made my life more interesting and unique. It’s a sport that can be performed at any age, without undue risk of harm or injury. It takes less time than many sports, such as golf, and can be a more efficient way for a busy professional to get a good workout and stay in shape. For example, I can walk into the New York Athletic Club, which is five blocks from my office, at 6 p.m., have a great workout, and still make a business dinner at 8 p.m. the same evening. Contrast that to a round of golf, which takes a full morning or afternoon.
Because of these characteristics, I am convinced that boxing has helped me become a far better athlete than I would ever have been in any other sport. It has also helped me in innumerable ways to become a stronger human being and more successful businessman. It has strengthened my constitution and helped me to focus better on my work. It has sharpened my time-management skills, allowing me to set and achieve my goals in both athletics and business.
White collar boxing has added a dimension to my life that I am sure I would not have achieved in any other sport. Because it is so different, people respect that I do it, that I excel at it. Whether or not someone likes the sport of boxing or not, almost everyone would agree that the sport takes a great deal of focus, preparation, determination, and commitment. And what client would not want to do business with someone who demonstrates these four characteristics on a regular basis? What a person does in his personal life, or athletic life, spills over to his business life. All of these factors have contributed to my love of the sport and recognition of all it has done for me.
Gyms & Clubs Offering White Collar Boxing
Atlanta Art of Boxing Center
1135 Spring Street
Atlanta, GA 30309
Ph: 404-870-8444 www.artofboxing.net
Boston Sport Boxing Club
125 Walnut Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Ph: 617-972-1711 www.bostonboxing.com