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White-Collar TKO

Last November, the state cracked down on weekend boxers. But these would-be Rockys can’t throw in the towel.

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Bankers, lawyers, doctors, plumbers—they all flocked to boxing meccas like Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn and Church Street Boxing in Manhattan to participate in “white-collar” bouts in front of cheering—and paying—crowds. But back in November, the state placed a temporary prohibition on such unsanctioned fights, until legislators write new safety laws. There’s never a winner declared in the matches, but it’s not about that: These pugs are eager to get out of their cubicles and back into the ring.


Photographs by Alyson Aliano  

Craig Tooman, 43
Architect
Veteran of 10 fights
“I’ve seen hundreds of these fights and I haven’t seen anyone get hurt, except maybe a few black eyes. It amazes the shit out of me every time, getting in the ring and holding your own. It’s nice to see how we as humans measure up to ourselves as animals for a change. You need a reality check once in a while. Now the reality check is gone.”


Matthew Bogdanos, 49
Senior trial counsel, Manhattan district attorney’s office; author, Thieves of Baghdad
26 fights
“Let’s say you’re working a rape case, and all of a sudden your main witness vanishes. You could start drinking, or you could go home and take out whatever you need to take out on whoever’s there. I take it out on another 160-pound guy. I get my ass kicked all the time, but I finish on my feet.”


Amy Bridges, 49
Investor
5 fights
“Boxing’s a great way to get through a lot of female stuff like PMS or menopause. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true. It’s not that attractive to show up at a PTA meeting with a black eye or anything, but it’s freeing, knowing you can take a punch. Now it’s like the lull in winter. Where are we all going to go for that adrenaline boost?”


Al Roth, 69
Security and alarms salesman
14 fights
“I don’t mind getting hit. Not at all. I like knowing that at my age, I can still do this. I put guys on the canvas and have broken a couple of noses. I used to look forward to getting in the ring in front of all those people. I lived for that, but now I can’t do it anymore. I have this empty void in my life now. White-collar boxing saved my life. It kept me going, and I want to keep going.”


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