Bruce Silverglade Vents His Frustrations amid Continued Gym Closure’s While Others Take Legal Measures
By: Hans Themistode
Gym owners are quietly being forgotten.
It’s been months since governor Cuomo ordered the shutdown of numerous businesses in the state of New York. The reasoning was sound as COVID-19 cases continued to spike. Sports were postponed, school’s shutdown, church congregations ceased from taking place and last but certainly not least, fitness centers were given no choice but to board up their doors.
COVID-19 tore through New York City as it became the epicenter for the virus and forced the city that never sleeps into Hypersomnia.
While New Yorkers obeyed the new guidelines that enforced social distancing and face coverings, things began to get better. Cases numbers shrank and the city began to open up.
Governor Cuomo and other officials laid out a plan for New York’s reopening. At the moment, phase three of four is currently underway. But while businesses are unlocking their doors and rushing customers inside, gym owners are watching as the rust continues to build on their unused equipment.
Not only are fitness owners forced to wait, but they have not been given any indication as to how long. It’s a frustration process but gym owner Bruce Silverglade of Gleason’s gym wants to make his voice heard.
“I have no idea where I fit in,” said Silverglade on BoxingInsider radio. “I’ve had people tell me that we are going to open in phase three. But I’ve had others tell me no, you’re in phase four. Now, we aren’t in phase four at all. There is absolutely no direction.”
What makes matters worse for Silverglade and others like him is the distinction that he is currently placed under. Gleason’s gym is more than a place to lose a few pounds, it’s a historical landmark where 131 world champion boxers have worked out of.
The numbers might be impressive in the world of boxing, but the state of New York has no regard for it. Safety is the name of the game and gym’s have been deemed a hotbed for the virus. With that being said however, Silverglade believes he can safely open while implementing new safety protocols.
“I have masks and gloves that are going to be mandatory, unless you are sparring. Gallons of hand sanitizer and wipes will be available. I will also have my employees wiping things down and sanitizing. We will have a private cleaning company come in and completely sanitize the place before we open. I can provide a reopening plan that will fully satisfy the Department of Health.”
While Silverglade is willing to work with state officials, Long Island gym owner Charlie Cassara of SC Fitness is taking matters into his own hands.
Along with several other struggling gym owners, Cassara plans to file a class-action suit against New York and its reopening plans.
The suit would entail the same issues that Silverglade detailed. Simply put, there is no structure nor guidelines to the reopening of fitness centers. Cassara has ensured that he is willing to adhere to new safety protocols but he believes that he isn’t being given a fair shake.
“We deserve the opportunity to open up under the CDC guidelines set forth,” said Cassara in a recent interview on Fox and Friends. “We are ready to do that. We’re not even given any answers. We have no layout. We just have: ‘You are not in Phase 4. We’ll talk to you guys when we’re good and ready.
Representing Cassara on his behalf is James Mermigis of Mermigis Law Group.
The negligence shown by Cuomo and the state to gym owners such as Silverglade and Cassara is erroneous when juxtaposed to other businesses. At least, according to Mermigis.
“We are just asking for equal treatment here,” explained Mermigis. “The right to be treated equally is just as important as any other right that’s protected by the Constitution. Why are malls, gyms, and movie theaters now being treated differently than tattoo parlors, than Walmart, than Target, then tanning salons?” Mermigis asked. “All these other businesses could open, but we can’t?”
The questions presented by Mermigis are endless, but discussing them are extraneous now. At the moment, there are only two answers that will satisfy his clients.
“We are going to give the governor an option. Either open up the gyms, or pay us.”
Simon Bakinde: From Paris to Brooklyn
By: Bryant Romero
Well respected trainer and former professional boxer Simon Bakinde is now 17 years since he left his native France and now living in New York and training professional prize fighters at the Mendez Gym in Manhattan, while also guiding the careers and managing a couple of prospects he’s looking to develop as world champions. Simon has come a long way from the young fighter he used to be who was looking for an opportunity when he first came to America, to now managing and training fighters out of New York. Simon was an up and coming Cruiserweight prospect looking for glory when he first stepped foot in America; however his opportunity to make it big here never came, and he instead found his calling as a trainer. Boxinginsider recently caught with Simon as he reflected on his past life in France and how he got to this point.
“The year I dropped out of college, I was wondering what I was going to do in the future,” Simon said.
“I realized that I didn’t want to be in the office all day long. I love physical activities, training, fitness and other things, so I said ‘I got to do something,’ but I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
While still contemplating on what he wanted to do for his future, Simon turned to his uncle for some guidance. His uncle insisted that he get into a sport, which Simon did, so he tried soccer for awhile, but he hated the team aspect of it.
“I hated losing in soccer because the teamwork situation was a little of a problem for me. When we lost I hated the fact that it was everyone’s fault. I wanted to make sure that if anything goes wrong it’s my fault, it’s no one else, so I give everything I got,” Simon said.
So his uncle suggested perhaps track and field, which is a more individual sport. With his lone wolf mentality, Simon figured out that he wanted to become a boxer.
“I said I’m going to do boxing, so I went to a boxing gym, the closest one near me in a suburb near Paris,” Simon told me.
“I met the coach and I tell him ‘Listen I want to be a professional fighter and I want to be a world champion.’ And he said, ‘Listen all that is possible, you just have to work.’ So I said, ‘no problem we’re going to put the work in.”
Simon would start putting that work in the gym for the next two years and he competed in 15 amateur fights with just a lone defeat. Simon recognized that he had some talent in this boxing game; he decided to turn pro after just two years in the amateur ranks, but with no guidance from an experienced manager or a promoter backing him.
“I turn pro with no gameplan without any money behind me, with no manager, my coach was basically my manager,” Simon said. “He had no connections, so he was just letting me take fights left and right.”
Simon realized that he wasn’t getting the right guidance to his career, which resulted in some early losses. So he decided to make a change and added a different coach to his team, but he would soon see the dark side of the business of boxing.
“That coach was actually stealing money from me. He was lying on the contract and once I realized he was getting money under the table, I started to think about going somewhere else,” Simon told me.
After arriving to the States with a plan to make it big in boxing in America, Simon was looking for fights and he even fought for free on some of the promoters cards to just show them what he had. Unfortunately, Simon came to the U.S at a time when European fighters weren’t getting much shine compared to today. Simon was unable to break into the U.S. boxing market and after three years of waiting with literally no fights; he decided to train people instead.
Simon would develop friendships and partnerships within in the boxing world which have resulted in young fighters from France coming over to train with him. He’s learned from the mistakes that he made within his own boxing career and has made sure that that fighters he trains or manages will get the best guidance possible for a the most successful boxing career they could have.
He currently trains light heavyweight prospect from Paris Fredric Julan (10-0, 8 KOs), super lightweight prospect Yurik Mamedov (10-1, 3 KOs), and guides the career of Romain Tomas (7-1, 1 KO). I asked why these 3 guys came a long way just to train with him and do these 3 have what it takes to become a champion?
“I think these guys came to me because we create trust. Trust is number 1 no matter how much knowledge you have, or how much money have,” Simon said.
“The fight game is a sport with a lot soul and a lot of heart, a lot of emotion, so you got to make sure that people trust you fully.
“I created a comfort zone where people can trust me, but also get results.
“I think they have what it takes to become champion because they have dedication and a lot of faith in them and they work hard,” Simon said.
Simon was a defensive minded fighter in his younger days and as a trainer considers himself to be a tactician and that being the smarter fighter with a right strategy can overcome a lot of what a fighter deals with inside that ring.
“I am a tactician. Defense first which is my culture since I was very defensive fighter myself,” Simon said.
“Skill, technique, and all these things without strategy is very limited to me. Strategy can overcome a lot.
“Strategy means you’re a thinking fighter, you have plan a, plan b, plan c, you have more than one gameplan,” he said.