“THE job is yours if you want it,” messaged Boxing News editor Matt Christie, saying that the magazine needed 50 boxing-related things that fans from out of town could do while they are in New York for a big fight. Not an easy assignment, being that the number is massive, but for this native New Yorker it was nevertheless doable, even if the envelope had to be stretched a bit. A fair warning before we get started – for the most part, all that has been provided are the venues. Addresses, hours of operation, costs etc are things that you will have to Google, email or phone in for. In no particular order of importance, here goes…
1. ATTEND THE FIGHT
Some fly in to experience the festivities, then save money by watching the show in a bar. However, there is no substitute for being inside Madison Square Garden on fight night.
2. ATTEND THE BWAA AWARDS DINNER
The night before the show (May 31), the Boxing Writers Association of America will be holding its awards banquet at the Copacabana in Manhattan. The $225 a ticket (for non-members) is steep, but you receive a nice gift bag and get to be in the presence of boxing royalty.
3. GO TO CANASTOTA
If you can stay an extra week, by all means attend the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s weekend induction ceremonies, scheduled to take place from June 6-9. However, being that it is upstate, you will need new lodging arrangements.
4. GO TO YANKEE STADIUM
The New York Yankees baseball team are at home during fight week. Go catch a ballgame. It is also a great tourist attraction that is enriched in boxing history, having hosted legendary contests such as the two Joe Louis-Max Schmeling bouts.
5. GO TO CONEY ISLAND
The amusement park is one of New York’s great landmarks. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was a boxing hotbed, hosting the Jim Jeffries-Tom Sharkey world heavyweight championship fight, among other contests. And a few years ago, Errol Spence Jnr boxed there. The hotdogs at Nathan’s alone make it worth the trip.
6. ATTEND THE WEIGH-IN
This is open to the public and the atmosphere is great.
7. TOUR MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Tours are given to those interested in purchasing season tickets for the New York Knicks (basketball) or New York Rangers (ice hockey). However, the tour does not obligate you to do so.
8. GO TO BROOKLYN COLLEGE
This university is home to the greatest amount of boxing archives in the world, thanks to historian Hank Kaplan, who had willed his collection to the school. It is strongly suggested that you make an appointment before going.
9. VISIT DIAMANTE’S CIGAR LOUNGE
Ring announcer Dave Diamante owns a cigar lounge in Brooklyn, near the Barclays Center. Even if you don’t smoke, drop by anyway. Dave is a great guy who will enjoy chatting with you if he is in.
10. BUY A DRINK AT JIMMY’S CORNER
The fight crowd has been known to congregate at legendary trainer Jimmy Glenn’s bar in Manhattan. The late Bert Sugar used to love to go there for a nightcap.
11. WALK AROUND HARLEM
You’ll get a feel of where Joe Louis’ fans rejoiced on the streets after his victories.
12. CHECK OUT THE BARCLAYS CENTER
Even if you just get to see it from the outside, you will have a point of comparison with its chief rival, MSG.
13. VISIT THE OLD SUNNYSIDE GARDENS
In the place of the one-time premier fight club is a Wendy’s fast food joint. However, on the grounds, a statue has been erected in honour of everyone who boxed there.
14. RIDE BY THE OLD SHEA STADIUM
It was torn down years ago and replaced with Citi Field, but there is a bit of history in the area. It is where The Beatles famously played in 1965, and where Emile Griffith, Nino Benvenuti, Carlos Ortiz and Jose Torres all boxed in championship contests.
15. EAT AT ROCKY’S
There are several establishments that bare this name. Some have a picture of a fighter on the wall and some don’t. In any event, eating New York pizza is something you should experience.
16. VISIT THE MUHAMMAD ALI MUSEUM
If you are willing to take a little detour into Connecticut, you’ll enjoy visiting the Muhammad Ali museum. It’s not big, but the proprietor, Rick Kaletsky, has packed an enormous amount of Ali memorabilia into the room. Make an appointment before you go.
17. VISIT THE NEW YORK STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSION OFFICES
There is nothing glamorous about this, but at least you’ll have an image of where the executive decisions are made.
18. TAKE A RIDE TO THE CATSKILLS
It’s not anywhere near what it was in Mike Tyson’s heyday, but it might be fun to check out his old haunts, nevertheless.
19. WEAR A BOXING T-SHIRT OR CAP
This is a great way to strike up a conversation with New Yorkers who like boxing and would never know you did otherwise.
20. VISIT CENTRAL PARK
Many a great boxer has done his roadwork there. Get active and try to emulate them.
21. VISIT PROSPECT PARK
See No. 20.
22. CONTACT AN OLD-TIME FIGHTER
Many outstanding fighters of yesteryear reside in the New York area. You will love listening to them talk about the past.
23. EAT AT TAD’S STEAKS
Don’t expect a gourmet steak here, but at least the price is right. Years ago, when steak was considered an imperative part of a boxer’s diet, some filled up at Tad’s.
24. VISIT GLEASON’S GYM
The top gym in New York, if not worldwide. Its proprietor, Bruce Silverglade, is a great host who will make you feel at home. Movie stars, world champions and businessmen have been known to go through their paces at this place simultaneously.
25. VISIT THE OTHER GYMS
There are many other great gyms in the New York area, such as the Church Street Boxing Gym, the Starrett City Boxing Club and more. Visit as many as you can, because you never know what big-name fighter you will find training there.
26. ATTEND THE FIGHTER WORKOUTS
On Tuesday May 28, the boxers appearing at MSG four days later will perform open workouts to market the event. At the time of writing the venue hadn’t been finalised, but they are expected to be in the financial district.
27. GET ONE-ON-ONE TRAINING
Former fighters serve as personal trainers and will be glad to work a session with you for a reasonable price. It would be fun to say you were trained by a former champion or contender, even if just for an hour. Most gyms offer this service.
28. EAT DINNER BEFORE ARRIVING AT MSG
Food is vastly overpriced inside the arena. You can have a nice meal at some restaurants for the same price as the junk food you would devour inside the Garden.
29. BAG THOSE SNACKS
Same as above. Unless the policy suddenly changes, you will be allowed to bring snacks and water bottles into MSG. This will not only save you money, but also help avoid the wait on the concession line.
30. BUY YOUR MEMORABILIA OUTSIDE MSG
You’ll probably have to buy an event program inside the Garden, but you can get a much better deal purchasing your stuff outside. At the end of the night, you can often find vendors on the street selling merchandise at a reduced rate.
31. VISIT JIM CORBETT’S HOME
The former world heavyweight champion passed on in 1933, but his home at 221-04 Corbett Road, in Bayside, Queens, is a great landmark.
32. VISIT JOE LOUIS’ TRAINING HEADQUARTERS
The legendary “Brown Bomber” trained in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. A monument paying tribute to Louis is on the grounds.
33. VIEW THE STATUE OF THE ‘CINDERELLA MAN’
Though deceased, former world heavyweight champion James J. Braddock has enjoyed a resurgence in this century. First there was the movie, Cinderella Man, and then a statue was built to honour him, which resides in North Bergen Park, New Jersey.
34. GO TO MADAME TUSSAUDS WAX MUSEUM
This museum has wax models of famous people, including some boxers. It is located in the heart of Times Square.
35. VISIT THE SITE OF JACK DEMPSEY’S OLD RESTAURANT
This was the place to be when the “Manassa Mauler” was alive. Located on 49th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, it closed down years ago, but at least you can get to visualize a past era by passing through.
36. WALK THE SUGAR RAY ROBINSON BLOCK
Named after the consensus pound-for-pound king, Sugar Ray Robinson Way is located on 124th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, in Harlem.
37. CHECK OUT JOE LOUIS PLAZA
You can’t miss it, being that it is on the same block as MSG.
38. GO TO THE SITE OF THE OLD POLO GROUNDS
Now called John T. Brush Stairway, this location on Edgecomb and 157th Street in Manhattan was once a famous ballpark that hosted legendary fights like Jack Dempsey-Luis Angel Firpo, Joe Louis-Billy Conn I, and Sugar Ray Robinson-Randolph Turpin II.
39. GO FOR A MEAL AT K&K SUPER BUFFET
Located at Nicholas Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, this was the location of the old Ridgewood Grove Arena, where Rocky Marciano lost to Coley Wallace in the amateurs.
40-45. VISIT LEGENDS AT THE FOLLOWING CEMETERIES
Tony Canzoneri and Sam McVea (Mount Olivet) / Jim Corbett (Cypress Hills) / Emile Griffith (St Mary’s) / Benny Leonard (Mount Carmel).
Frankie Genaro (St Peter’s).
Terry McGovern (Holy Cross).
Kid Norfolk and Hector Camacho (St Raymond’s) / Tex Rickard and Young Griffo (Woodlawn).
Jack Dempsey (Southampton).
Gene Tunney (Long Ridge Union).
46. VISIT THE JERSEY JOE WALCOTT MONUMENT
This is located in the former world heavyweight champion’s hometown of Camden, New Jersey.
47. VISIT THE IKE WILLIAMS MONUMENT
This is located in the former world lightweight champion’s hometown of Trenton, New Jersey.
48. VISIT THE SITE OF THE FIRST MILLION-DOLLAR GATE
In honour of the Jack Dempsey-Georges Carpenter fight, which was the first million-dollar gate, in Boyle’s Thirty Acres, New Jersey, a plaque has been erected. The area has also been named Jack Dempsey Plaza.
49. GO TO VICTOR’S CAFÉ
This was Roberto Duran’s favourite place to be when he was in New York. Located on W 52nd Street, the Cuban cuisine remains a popular choice for locals and tourists alike.
50. GO TO GALLAGHERS STEAKHOUSE
This has been home to many boxing press conferences and meetings in the past. Famous fighters, actors and actresses have frequently gone to this establishment.