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'White collar' boxers vow to fight N.Y. ban

/ Source: CNBC

They come from all walks of life. Some are grandfathers, same Wall Street portfolio managers, others are judges. There are seven some college professors. And they are all fighting mad.

“It’s quite disappointing; it’s government again encroaching on my right to participate in this,” said Anthony Cucchiara, a professor at Brooklyn College. “I’m not asking them to provide insurance for me. I’ve opted to come to this gym to train and compete.”

“All of a sudden I was being cut off from something I really enjoy,” said New York investment manager John Oden.

What happened? They’re all white collar boxers banned from the ring.

Urban professionals who train and test themselves against each other.  But since they do not fall strictly in the category of amateurs or professionals, the New York State Athletic Commission has barred them from taking part in matches due to liability concerns.

“I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to get hurt in white collar boxing,” said Al Roth , a retiree. “But the chances are very slim because the referee in that ring knows who’s in that ring, and if anybody really lets it loose they separate you.”

“Dating is a lot more dangerous than boxing,” said Philip Maier, an administrative judge. “In dating there’s no rules at all. In boxing there’s a referee there, he tells you to stop, he separates the parties. In dating, that doesn’t happen. If they want to outlaw something they should outlaw dating, and not outlaw white collar boxing.”

And the absence of these matches may be hurting the bottom line for historic boxing gyms like Gleason’s, that rely on these weekend warriors for their very existence.

White collar boxing started at Gleason’s Gym in the 1980’s -- a few stragglers that made up just 1 percent of the Gym’s membership.  Today that number is 65 percent.

“If I did not have my white collar membership I would be out of business,” said  Gleason’s Owner Bruce Silverglade.

And the sport of boxing could suffer as well.  The money white collar boxers bring in helps subsidize the training fees of tomorrow’s amateur and professional champions.

“Not only does Gleason’s rely on white collar boxing but other gyms rely on white collar boxing,” said Silverglade. “And if boxing gyms went out of business there would be not place for amateur and professional boxers to train.”

But that training is just not the same for people like Oden who misses his involvement in the newly banned Friday night matches.

“Without the challenge of a match, you don’t have the incentive to get in there and stay in shape as you would if you were boxing,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by everyone involved.

“What’s necessary is that we put on the gloves, get into the ring and see what we can do,” said  Roth.

“ If you can face an opponent in the ring that wants to punch your lights out you can face anything,” said Cucchiara.

Now, these sultans of the sweet science are hoping that a petition to the New York legislature will repeal the boxing ban and allow captains of industry, law, and all walks of life to test their mettle against each other once again.