At the Victory Boxing Club, owner and operator John Snow trains everyone from busy executives to recovering stroke patients, with a focus on the psychology behind every swing and jab — and the motto “you don’t have to be in my ring for me to be in your corner.”
A Brooklyn native with a degree in history from Fordham University, Snow first began training fighters at his brother Martin’s gym, the Trinity Boxing Club on Duane Street in Tribeca, where he put his multidisciplinary education to work as a personalized, newfound boxing philosophy.
“As far as taking what I’ve learned in one field and applying it to another – I lifted my idea from Leonardo da Vinci,” John said. “If he was stuck on a mathematical problem, he would work on some art (or vice versa) and it would help him redirect and refocus. That’s why I use everything from Milton Erickson to Noam Chomsky to different learning and language patterns in my coaching. I use all different coaching modalities based on the person’s learning style.”
For John and his brother, getting into the sport was “the total opposite of my family [his mother was a school principal and his father a financial planner] – going to a boxing gym was a different kind of rebellion,” he said. While attending school near Union Square in the 1980s, 15-year old John stumbled upon Gramercy Gym originally run by Mike Tyson’s adoptive father Cus D’Amato, now closed.
“At the time Gramercy and Union Square were so bad, if you walked through the park you got suspended because it was assumed that you were only there to buy drugs,” John recalled. “It took me many, many attempts for me to get up the stairs to the gym — and when I finally got through the door, everything changed.”
Working with legendary trainers like Al Gavin, John was smitten with the art of boxing. He credits the coaches at Gramercy Gym with not only training him to box, but also with teaching him resilience. When, a year after joining the boxing gym, John’s father was diagnosed with ALS: “The gym was a place for me to process it all,” John said, adding, “As a boxer, you have a fierce sense of individuality, but you do have a team around you, and the trainer/fighter relationship is very important – my trainers were instrumental in helping me get through that time and building a fortitude and mental toughness that helped immensely.”
According to John, the key to success in the ring is to give trainees clear goals, structure and a sense of safety to push past their boundaries.
“Boxing appeases the amygdala – the oldest reptilian part of the brain,” John explained. “And it’s really there so that we know we can defend ourselves and take chances. By boxing, we know that we can endure and we can push ourselves harder than other people push us.”
He added: “I tell people, ‘what scares us thrills us’ – that’s what I learned the first day that I finally made it up the stairs of Gramercy Gym.”
It’s a feeling that John hopes everyone who steps through the doors at Victory will experience. “My mission statement for the gym is, ‘everyone has my first day.’ Everyone comes here for their own reasons,” John said.
Once a curious kid climbing up the stairs of the Gramercy Gym, John is now New York’s foremost boxing philosopher. He has trained kids who are now adults, couples who met in his gym and generations of boxers, and considers it an honor to keep the work going at Victory: “It’s heaven on earth – I never work a day in my life. There’s no better place in the world to me than a boxing gym.”
This story was adapted from the W42ST article, "You Don’t Have to Be in My Ring for Me to Be in Your Corner” — John Snow, the Philosopher of Victory Boxing."
Nicknamed “The Batcave” for the emblem painted on the floor on the walkway inside, this particular fire station has been an active part of the FDNY’s network since 1865. Previously, it had been a Metropolitan Fire station starting in 1861, and before that it was run by volunteer firefighters. Firefighter Alex Laird was kind enough to give the Manhattan Sideways team a full tour of the historic building. The establishment is so old that it used to house horse drawn engines. Some of the original architecture still remains, most notably the spiral staircase that now sits alongside the modern fireman’s pole. Sadly, this firehouse lost five members in the attacks on 9/11. The station still has the original flag and radio from that day and has them on display out of respect for their fallen brothers.
The location was renamed in 2023 as The Flatiron Room Murray Hill. This feature was first published in September 2017. Fine & Rare, shorthand for “fine food and rare spirits” is the latest creation of Tommy Tardie, restaurateur and owner of the Flatiron Room on West 26th Street. In contrast to the more common restaurant theme of the 1920s and 30s, which Tommy considers to have “played out, ” Fine & Rare aims to be an aristocratic parlor straight out of the 1950s, modeled after classic Manhattan hideaways such as The Explorers Club. “The challenge was getting it to look like the Flatiron Room - old world, almost like we discovered it, ” Tommy told the Manhattan Sideways team. The space has had other lives as a Japanese restaurant and a photocopy center - Tommy said that when he first saw the space, it was raw, with concrete floors that had holes them and wires hanging from the ceiling. In 2016, it became a little slice of vintage Manhattan, complete with a repurposed teller booth from Grand Central Station serving as the hosts’ stand. The wallpaper is finely textured with glass and sand, and the stainless steel ceilings are reclaimed parts from a former distillery. Descending into the restaurant, we walked on 125-year-old floorboards from Connecticut that have the names of the restaurant’s investors carved into it. Two of these investors are Tommy’s young sons, River and Sawyer, who each made a $1 investment in the establishment in order to garner a place on the floor. Hanging above the booths are pieces of taxidermy that Tommy believes “bring in some more old world charm. ”The room is large, but because the tables are isolated from one another, each setting is intimate and unique. “Wherever you are in the restaurant, you feel like you’re in your own area. ” Each side of the dining room features a fireplace: one has hand carved marble from Italy, and the other is repurposed from the door of a country schoolhouse. The jazz stage provides a theatrical ambience to the space without overpowering it. “We want the performance to enhance, but not be, the experience. There’s always a show going on even if nothing is onstage. ” The walls are decked out with the restaurant’s inventory of over 1000 bottles, which Tommy noted are, “part of the architecture. ” Some sit atop high shelves and can only be reached by ladders, which members of the staff will climb throughout the night. Others sit in the caged bottle keep, with personalized labels that can be bought. “New York is all about showmanship - people love to put their name on something. ” The back elevated room holds up to thirty-five people and is used for tastings and private events. It has a few hidden elements of its own, including a chandelier and leather and steel door from a masonic hall. While speaking with Tommy, the Manhattan Sideways team sampled a few of the restaurant's scrumptious items, including the burrata served with arugula and an assortment of fruits, the short rib burger, the seafood Cobb salad, and the Greek grain bowl with quinoa, mint, and beet humus. While the Flatrion Room focuses largely on whiskey, Fine & Rare features cocktails with tequila, rum, and brandy. This does not mean that they do not still have some amazing whiskey options, such as the breathtaking smoked Old Fashioned that was presented to us to photograph and then sip. Tommy began his professional career as a creative director in advertising on Madison Avenue, but realized after a dozen years that he was craving something more exciting. “The higher I got on the corporate ladder, the less creative it got. It lost that cool factor. ” He resolved to go the route of the entrepreneur, initially with a few clubs, and later with the Flatiron Room and eventually Fine & Rare in 2017. “With this one, I decided to make the demographic and design a place I’d like to go, as opposed to previous projects that centered on reaching a specific consumer base. " Tommy also remarked on how Fine & Rare is the result of the trial and error from past ventures: “This is as if I got to do it again and I could do it better. I think entrepreneurs are genetically coded to forget how difficult it can be starting out, but a new project is fun. It makes your heart pump and your adrenaline go. ”
Despite his Irish background, having grown up in Dublin and owning a few bars and restaurants there, Nick's bars and lounges in Manhattan are all about America. I am certain that his training abroad did him well, as he has been quite successful in New York for over twenty years. He began with a club in Tribeca and then moved uptown where he now runs four pubs. Nick admits that Stitch is showing its age as it has been around for quite some time, but he continues to try to" keep it fresh. " And Nick went on to say, "we are a user friendly venue. " We found it to be a warm welcoming place to come by for a drink and some solid American food - the hamburgers and wings are the specialty. We shared the Lingerie (the cocktails are each cleverly named for something represented in the fashion district... thus the name Stitch, the main event. ) Filled with vanilla vodka, amaretto, coco lopez, honey, pineapple juice and a touch of cranberry, our drink went down smoothly and was an interesting twist on a pina colada.
A line out the door at lunchtime certainly caught my attention. When I inquired, I was told that the food is fresh, the sandwiches are terrific, and that their Mediterranean menu is worth the wait. Thus, the Manhattan Sideways team queued up along side everyone else, as who would not trust the word on the street? Meeting the two animated Israeli owners, David and Yariv, was an added bonus, as we secured one of the few tables to sit and eat our freshly made dishes. We eagerly delved into the bowl of hummus, the hot pressed mozzarella sandwich and the strips of zucchini with lemon, olive oil and toasted almonds. We left with a full understanding of why people are willing to stand on line. Although, we also learned that Picnic Basket is expanding their kitchen in an effort to accommodate more people at a faster pace.