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Jimmy Glenn, NY boxing legend and Jimmy’s Corner owner, dies at age 89

The late Jimmy Glenn (left) with former champion Joey Gamache at Mendez Boxing Gym in 2018. Photo by Ryan Songalia
Fighters Network

Jimmy Glenn, the grandfather figure of New York boxing, died Thursday at age 89.

Glenn had been hospitalized since mid-April with COVID-19, and fight fans followed his progress through his son Adam’s updates, which Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler posted daily. Through the updates it appeared Glenn’s condition had remained stable, and he had begun moving again with physical therapy before his passing.

Glenn wore plenty of hats throughout his decades in the sport, managing and training contenders, but was best known to the rest of the world as the owner of Jimmy’s Corner, the iconic “dive bar” on 44th Street which opened in 1971, and was a throwback to the old Times Square. With its cheap beer prices and boxing photos and posters from wall to wall, the bar was a mandatory fight week stop for boxing reporters, trainers and fans alike.

Born on August 18, 1930 in South Carolina, Glenn moved to New York City in the 1940s, where he watched legends of yesteryear like Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis. He boxed briefly as an amateur, most notably against future heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. “Knocked me down a few times, broke my tooth. But I went the distance,” Glenn told The Sweet Science in 2005 of their encounter. Glenn later worked as a cornerman for Patterson.

Jimmy’s Corner in Manhattan. Photo by Ryan Songalia

It was outside the ropes that Glenn found his best success, beginning with his first job training boxers at the Third Moravian Church on East 127st Street, according to his New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame bio. He opened a gym of his own, the Times Square Boxing Gym in the ’70s, where Muhammad Ali would train whenever he stopped into town.

Glenn never trained a world champion of his own, though he came closest with Terrence Alli, bringing the Brooklyn-based Guyanese fighter to within a point or two of winning the WBC lightweight title in 1987 against Jose Luis Ramirez.

Among the other top contenders he trained heavyweight contenders are Jameel McCline and Monte Barrett, and he had been a popular cutman for many more.

Barrett reminisced on Instagram about Glenn’s inspiring pep talk that helped him overcome self-doubt leading into his 2008 fight with Tye Fields. Barrett went on to win by knockout within the first minute.

“He’s strong yet gentle, he’s passive but don’t take any crap. He was quiet but a fighter and most of all he was a very loving and generous man with everyone he came in contact with,” said Barrett.

“Great man, great friend for more than 40 years. Rock solid integrity and character,” added Trampler.

“Along with my late Dad, Jimmy was the best man I have ever known. He was a source of unconditional love and support in my life for 30 years,” promoter Lou DiBella tweeted.

Former New York State Athletic Commission head Randy Gordon said Glenn was a “trusted voice of reason” whom he would consult with whenever he needed to make a tough decision.

“We’d go into his office and he’d tell his manager ‘Hold all calls.’ When I emerged from his office, I came out a better & stronger commissioner,” wrote Gordon on his Facebook.

Glenn’s death is one of several that have hit New York boxing since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the city, following Mendez Boxing Gym owner Francisco Mendez, plus trainers Nelson Cuevas and Bob Jackson.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].