“Everybody’s treated like a champ,” said Lee Gladden Jr., 43, head coach and owner of the gym located at 635 NW 13th St. “And you just get pushed according to your maximum.”
And he’s not afraid to push.
“Basically everybody is their own unique individual,” said Gladden, also known as "Coach Milk." He's been boxing for more than 30 years. “At the end of the day I just want them to be able to maximize their potential.”
During his Friday evening class, Gladden watches his boxers jog around the edge of the gym, listening as they call out the number of laps they’ve completed. Everyone should be on the same lap.
“Definitely challenging, but rewarding,” said Cassidy Hinson, 27. She’s been boxing since April.
Hinson shouts motivational words at the person jogging in front of her, placing her hand on his back in an attempt to move him forward. He’s fallen behind.
“They don’t treat me as if I’m a girl,” explained Hinson. “They treat me like a complete equal.”
Gladden grew up in Pleasantville, NJ, just outside Atlantic City. On television he watched ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard and worked to emulate his skill.
“As a young, tough kid in the inner city I could beat anybody,” said Gladden. “But when I got in that ring, I was no longer the baddest man. I was very humble.”
After high school he went to college in New York before joining the U.S. Marine Corps. He boxed on the Marine Corps team and eventually the USA Boxing Team, making it to the 1996 Summer Olympics as an alternate.
Today, his competitive boxers travel the country fighting for USA Boxing.
"Boxing has done so much for me," said Gladden. "I felt that it was good for me to be able to give back.”