To Lee Gladden Jr., boxing is more than just throwing punches.
Gladden, also known as “Coach Milk,” owns and trains at Gladden Boxing Club, formerly known as Team Major Boxing. Every week, he trains over 100 boxers six times a week.
“At my boxing club, we have people of all ages, all ethnicities and all backgrounds,” said Gladden. “We encompass self-defense, personal awareness and discipline.”
A native of Pleasantville, New Jersey, Gladden said most of his coaching technique comes from his experiences in the United States Marine Corps.
The 43-year-old was one of over 50 boxers inducted in the inaugural class of the All-Marine Boxing Hall of Fame at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
In his eyes, he is using boxing principles to affect people’s lives in a positive way. After all, boxing was what saved him from a life on the streets.
“It provided me with an opportunity to do great things,” Gladden said. After boxing in the military, he attended Santa Fe College before transferring to the University of Florida for a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and marketing.
With the support of his family and friends, he opened the gym in 2013 and remained at a building off North Main Street until his numbers outgrew the facility.
Now, he coaches at a 5,00-square-foot gym located off of 13th Street, often leading his team in a number of physical training drills and stretching exercises.
He hopes that in a couple of years, he can relocate to an even bigger location and provide a community center for low-income kids.
“My next step is playing a bigger role in the community and opening my doors to kids in need,” Gladden said. “Boxing is more than just boxing, it is every day life.”