Jolie Glassman’s motto is, “You Don’t Have to BE a Boxer to Train Like One and To Live Like One.” Glassman, a familiar figure both in Miami and in the boxing world, is the owner and operator of South Beach Boxing, a business that she and her ex-husband bought in 1998. Glassman, the sole owner since 2007, has just released her debut book, “Life According to the Rules of Boxing: 101 Rules to Being The Champion of Your Own Life.” Published by Balboa Press, “Life” is part autobiography, part motivational book and part call-to-action. With a foreword by Khalilah Camacho-Ali— Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife and mother of their four children—as well as a glowing review from friend-hero Mike Tyson, Glassman’s new “title” already looks like a champ.
How did you get into boxing?
Glassman: At the time, I was a school teacher, and I did some bartending on the side. My husband decided to open up a business and the choices were between a bowling alley, an English Pub or a gym. I had taught aerobics before so I thought, “gym, of course!” So it’s been 24 years of running it now, and we’ve had every famous fighter in here.
How hard was it to write the book? How long did it take?
Glassman: It was hell! Writing a book is like birthing children and you think you’re having one but you have three! I kept thinking, “What did I get myself into?” but this was actually my second book. I did a writer’s workshop with my first idea, which was more of a personal story, and my publisher advised me to do something catchy first, so I had this idea in my back pocket when COVID happened. It took a solid year of compiling and writing, but a lifetime of lessons to put it together. All of the tidbits of my 30 years of personal development is in there. My Masters is in behavior so I kind of got it all back together. I’ve never procrastinated so much in my life. It was ironic that I was writing a book about being a badass but I was not feeling like a badass! But I kept talking about it so people held me accountable to finish. It takes a lot out of you.
The book is arranged in a very specific way. How did you decide to organize it as lessons and stories?
Glassman: The foundation of everything I teach is beginning, middle and end. And it’s all important. The lessons are not in a specific order beyond the beginning and the end. I wanted to bring you into the journey of the hero with the first lesson, Always Chase the Perfect Punch. After that, you can open to any page you like, and find a valuable lesson. I started with over 100 index cards spread all over my floor but I wanted 101, so I combined a few. Then I found quotes from famous boxers and finally, I wrote from personal experience.
Any favorite lessons? Any that you think are particularly timely?
Glassman: They’re all my favorite! They’re all great. But one of my favorites is, “The moments between the notes create the music. Never have the same timing, rhythm, or tempo.” We should all be asking ourselves, “When are we in the moment?” Timing is one of the most important lessons in life, but I don’t think any of these lessons can be pulled out when you’re making a champion. You need them all. It’s like a recipe.
You say that boxers are always fighting themselves. Are people fighting the same fights these days or have we changed?
Glassman: No, nothing’s changed. The lessons are timeless. Rules are rules. Things can change and bend and people can do different things but nothing is really new. Becoming a champion is always about the same stuff: hard work, grit, responsibility. You’d think they’d teach these lessons at school but they don’t.
Who is your target audience?
Glassman: I want everyone! But most of all probably the people who are going into college or getting out of college right now. High schoolers to 35. People who are like, “Holy Shit! I have these degrees and I don’t know what to do!” I feel like it’s a lost generation. Everything has been handed to them. They need tools.
Who are your heroes?
Glassman: Mike Tyson. Everyone had been into the gym except him until recently. Then Brett Ratner came in to work out and he is doing a three-part documentary on Mike Tyson, so it all came together and we met and then talked for hours straight. He has no filter. He’s very loving and sweet, and he’s all for the underdog, so we’re very similar. He’s selling the book all over his social media right now.
On your website, you write, “I was “teaching boxing” before I even knew what “boxing” was.” Can you explain that a bit more?
Glassman: I was a little white blonde girl who would go into the inner city ghetto, and teach the kids in the back. My kids had guns and knives. My school was called, “Last Chance.” It was worse than jail. There were all of these groups of cowards beating up whoever. I learned that bullying is no joke. The boxing gym was actually serendipitous because by the time we opened I had already learned boxing as a teacher. If kids were going to fight, I had a rule that, fine, I’d pull the chairs out in a circle but the fight had to be one-on-one. I was always teaching, “Don’t talk shit.” I was anti-bully before I knew what boxing was. And I got instantaneous results because cowards won’t fight without a posse behind them. You know, classroom management is huge. No one could believe my results. Most teachers can’t manage their classroom, so that’s a lose/lose. I’m into win/win. We need to disrupt education in such a way that people don’t follow the herd. We need to get kids to work early. They’re smart, passionate and energetic. They can trade their skill for money and get skills early. Every athlete starts early. Champions start early.
A lot of bullying has moved on to social media; does the book teach people how to deal with virtual bullies?
“Own your own power” is the chapter that talks about girls being ladies. I talk about not giving up your power to get what you want. But I don’t teach kids what not to do. They would never think of picking up drugs if they’re thinking of health and fitness. So I talk about bringing out their best, their inner qualities, letting them know that nothing comes easy. I teach them to have a better voice inside their head. To have integrity. It’s not about what others are doing, so don’t be a follower. Of course, rumors are viral now thanks to social media. You can’t leave your bathroom without everyone knowing your business! But what you can do is prove them wrong.
What are your hopes for the book?
Glassman: I know it will be out there with boxers, since Mike Tyson is promoting it, but I don’t need to teach them to be champions, anyway. They know! Ultimately, I want to disrupt education. Parents are so lost in terms of what to do. My goal is for parents to read this with their kids and also have schools adapt these lessons. Really just have it in anyone’s hands so people can realize that they’re it. They’re either the heroes of their stories or they’re not. I want people to wake up.