Come Out Swinging

Come Out Swinging: The Changing World of Boxing in Gleason's Gym

Lucia Trimbur
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bbtx
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  • Book Info
    Come Out Swinging
    Book Description:

    Gleason's Gym is the last remaining institution of New York's Golden Age of boxing. Jake LaMotta, Muhammad Ali, Hector Camacho, Mike Tyson--the alumni of Gleason's are a roster of boxing greats. Founded in the Bronx in 1937, Gleason's moved in the mid-1980s to what has since become one of New York's wealthiest residential areas--Brooklyn's DUMBO. Gleason's has also transformed, opening its doors to new members, particularly women and white-collar men. Come Out Swinging is Lucia Trimbur's nuanced insider's account of a place that was once the domain of poor and working-class men of color but is now shared by rich and poor, male and female, black and white, and young and old.

    Come Out Swinging chronicles the everyday world of the gym. Its diverse members train, fight, talk, and socialize together. We meet amateurs for whom boxing is a full-time, unpaid job. We get to know the trainers who act as their father figures and mentors. We are introduced to women who empower themselves physically and mentally. And we encounter the male urban professionals who pay handsomely to learn to box, and to access a form of masculinity missing from their office-bound lives. Ultimately, Come Out Swinging reveals how Gleason's meets the needs of a variety of people who, despite their differences, are connected through discipline and sport.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4606-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. List of Prominent Participants
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
  6. Chapter One SURVIVAL IN A CITY TRANSFORMED: THE URBAN BOXING GYM IN POSTINDUSTRIAL NEW YORK
    (pp. 1-15)

    OVER THE PAST FOUR DECADES, NEW YORK CITY’S SOCIAL, economic, and political structures have transformed dramatically, and the word “postindustrial” is used to describe these changes. “Postindustrial” is used in a number of contexts, and the trends that it captures are subject to myriad interpretations by scholars, policymakers, and social critics. As a result, the term is contested and not without discursive, political, and ideological problems.¹ However, “postindustrial” can be a useful way to mark the decline in manufacturing and the acceleration of the FIRE economy—finance, insurance, and real estate—in urban centers and some of the resulting social...

  7. Chapter Two WORK WITHOUT WAGES
    (pp. 16-38)

    ON AN AFTERNOON IN LATE AUGUST, ADRIAN AND I STROLL leisurely along Court Street in Brooklyn from the public library, where we have checked our email. Adrian, a twenty-two-year-old amateur boxer, is fresh from a humiliating loss in a fight that everyone in Gleason’s Gym agrees he was physically prepared to win. His training has been rigorous and focused for the past several months, but he has suffered defeat after defeat to athletes he is talented enough to dominate in the ring. In a somber tone, he tells me that he has given up too much not to see any...

  8. Chapter Three TOUGH LOVE AND INTIMACY IN A COMMUNITY OF MEN
    (pp. 39-62)

    “THE ONLY PEOPLE OUT AT THAT TIME OF NIGHT ARE COPS and robbers.”

    Harry is at it again.

    Reclining in a plastic chair with his arms folded behind his head, ankles crossed, and heels propped up on a table, Harry, a gym trainer, is beginning to lecture Cedric, a tall and quiet fourteen-year-old. Cedric has no idea that he is perched on the precipice of a sermon, but others do. Sensing Harry’s fervor, several gym regulars exchange warning glances and slink away. Cedric also has no idea that after just months of working with Harry, he is already one of...

  9. Chapter Four PASSING TIME: THE EXPRESSIVE CULTURE OF EVERYDAY GYM LIFE
    (pp. 63-88)

    TUCKED AWAY IN THE BACK RIGHT CORNER OF GLEASON’S Gym stands Mike and Harry’s corner, affectionately referred to as Mike and Harry’s “office.” Their quarters consist of two small square lopsided Formica tables, a scattering of broken plastic chairs, and three lockers overflowing with boxing equipment (sweat-soaked headgears, boxing gloves, jump ropes) and stocked with a supply of boxing necessities (rolls of duct tape, pots of petroleum jelly, water bottles). Upon arrival in this corner, one will find Mike, short and stout with the confident gait of a wrestler, and Harry, a former heavyweight with a stern expression interrupted episodically...

  10. Chapter Five THE CHANGING POLITICS OF GENDER
    (pp. 89-116)

    DON’T BACK UP.

    Don’t back up.

    Please don’t back up.

    I repeat this phrase silently to myself, prying my eyes open when I realize I have shut them tightly in anxiety. One of the most important rules of boxing is not to back straight up, and Maya has just done this twice in the current round, getting hit brutally in the face as a punishment. Luckily, it is Maya’s only apparent weakness, and not a second later, a fan in the audience verbalizes my unspoken plea, and Maya rectifies her mistake. She moves forward with renewed energy, as if empowered...

  11. Chapter Six BUYING AND SELLING BLACKNESS: WHITE-COLLAR BOXING AND THE CULTURAL CAPITAL OF RACIAL DIFFERENCE
    (pp. 117-141)

    ON A WEDNESDAY EVENING, GLEASON’S GYM CLOSES FOUR hours early in preparation for a special event. Scott Stedman and Jeff Koyen, the editors of L Magazine and the New York Press, respectively, two small “alternative magazines,” are taking a feud between their publications from the page to the ring. For the past four months, Koyen has attacked L Magazine, insulting everything from the fashion choices of the editorial staff to the supposed sexual activities of the editor’s mother. To defend magazine and mom, Stedman will settle the score in a pugilistic encounter at Gleason’s Gym.

    Tonight is fight night.

    A...

  12. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 142-148)

    “WHEN THE BELL RINGS, COME OUT SWINGING.” I LISTEN to the last line of Harry’s voicemail greeting and bite my lip as I wait for the beep. I leave my message in a sputtering, nonsensical monologue. I am wiggling out of a scheduled workout, something that I have been doing for years. Sometimes I have a “headache”; other times I am sick to my stomach. On occasion, I am too tired or I need to “focus on my research.” In my more dramatic moments, I have just recovered from a bloody nose and I am concerned that it could start...

  13. Methodological Appendix: Ethnographic Research in the Urban Gym
    (pp. 149-154)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 155-180)
  15. References
    (pp. 181-192)
  16. Index
    (pp. 193-200)