Come Out Swinging
The Changing World of Boxing in Gleason's Gym
Princeton University Press 2013
Imagine a boxing gym.
What probably comes to mind is a large, run-down room on the upper floor of an old brick building, somewhere in a trash-strewn, depressed neighborhood. The room echoes with the thud of the heavy bag, the rat-tat-tat of the speed bag, the quick whisks of the jump rope. The men training are either black or Latino, with one or two white men in the mix, probably of Italian background (think a young Stallone or DeNiro). And alongside the sparring rings are the trainers: grizzled men with grizzled voices. Not only can you picture the scene, you can smell it — sweat, heat rub, and musty locker rooms.
When sociologist Lucia Trimbur–first entered Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, this is what she expected to see. What she found instead stunned her. She paints a vivid picture of the gym that she discovered in her book Come Out Swinging: The Changing World of Boxing in Gleason’s Gym (Princeton University Press, 2013). In the course of a year, Lucia integrated herself into the life of the gym, even training as a boxer. She interviewed trainers and fighters, and she presents their stories in a compelling and entertaining way. And in the manner of the best kind of social science, she connects her subjects’ stories — and what compelled them to become boxers — to larger lessons about the world outside the gym.