had the pleasure of interviewing ‘The
First Lady of Boxing’, Jackie Kallen in 2009.
were one of the first women to be a recognizable and respectful role in
boxing. How did you get involved in the sport?
I was a journalist for a daily newspaper in the Detroit area &I was sent to
interview a young 4-round prospect named Thomas Hearns.
SA: What is your first boxing memory?
Ali (then Cassius Clay) in the Olympics.
SA: How do you deal with being a woman in a
male dominated sport?
JK: It was
a challenge that I welcomed. I felt I could make a path for other women and
minorities to follow.
SA: How hard was it for you when you look back
to break into doing promotion, managing in the world of boxing?
Managing was tricky because it was a real "old boys club" twenty plus years
ago. But I persevered and made a place for myself. I enjoyed the process and
learned a lot from it.
SA: Do you think it’s hard for women in the
sport of boxing and if so why do you think they still prefer men boxing?
What’s the difference and how could we change it?
Wonderful question. I think that our society is much more comfortable with
women in traditional roles. Punching another woman in the head is not the
"norm." Some fans are still not comfortable with it. I enjoy it and think
that the women's fights are usually the most exciting on the card.
SA: How do you deal with critics?
JK: I don't
mind positive criticism. That's how one learns. But I do not like
mean-spirited jealousy and nastiness that some so-called critics toss out so
SA: Do you think the world of boxing has grown,
changed or decreased now that there’s MMA?
statistic speaks for themselves. MMA is out-drawing boxing in many markets.
Boxing needs some exciting new stars to bring the fans back.
SA: You are still active in the fight game
today, managing several fighters. Which fighters are you still
professionally associated with?
Dallas and Karim Mayfield--two undefeated prospects and Ernest Johnson,
Damian Fuller and Theron Johnson. I also work with Jeannine Garside - a very
talented female fighter.
SA: As we speak, are you aware of any Up and
Coming Fighters that look promising?
wouldn't call Paul Williams "up and coming" anymore, but he is very
promising and impressive. I would also urge fans to keep their eyes on
Mayfield and Dallas.
SA: Do you think Professional Boxing should
have a tournament style fights to determine undisputed champions rather than
all these belts?
JK: Kind of
like a Superbowl of Boxing? That would be fun and more satisfying to the
SA: If you could change anything or turn it
back what would you do?
decisions, more amateur gyms and tournaments, better match-making.
SA: What are your short and long term goals?
biggest goal right now is to have another World Champion. I love the sport
as much as ever and I want to stand next to one of my "kids" when he gets
that world championship belt.
SA: What is the motivation behind your career?
JK: A sense
of pride. I like to finish what I start, reach my goals, and make the world
a better place along the way.
SA: What is your favorite quote?
doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I have always believed that adversity
builds character and strength.
SA: You do a lot of charity work, you’ve been
at the Kronk Gym Foundation not too long ago. What other charities are you
JK: I do a
lot of work with kids-at-risk, battered women, and the homeless.
SA: Relating to the Kronk Gym Foundation, what
do you think can we do to change the whole situation to make a difference?
JK: We need
more neighborhood rec centers and gyms. Kids need a place to go since the
after-school programs have been all but eliminated many cities. Young
people need a safe haven to go to that is close to their homes and
comfortable for them. They need strong role models and more supervision.
SA: Do you see yourself as a role model for the
ladies out there?
JK: I hope
so. I am not perfect, but I try to succeed in whatever I do with a sense of
dignity, integrity and good will. I try to avoid cattiness, mud-slinging and
negative behavior. Hopefully other young women will follow that guideline.
SA: Do you have any advice for everyone out
JK: Smile a
lot, be tolerant of those around you, and maintain a positive, optimistic
SA: As of right now, who are your favorite
than my own; I would have to say that Paul Williams is my favorite CURRENT
boxer. If you mean favorite of all time; that list would include Joe Louis,
Sugar Ray Robinson, Thomas Hearns and James Toney.
SA: What or who do you credit your success to?
JK: A solid
sense of self-worth and the inner strength to believe that I can achieve
whatever I can perceive.
SA: What do you do in your free time to relax
or for fun?
JK: I love
to read, knit, play Scrabble and other word games, and spend time with my
SA: If you would describe yourself in words
what would it be and what makes you special?
JK: Optimistic, kind, diligent
As to what makes me "special"--maybe you can give me an answer. I don't
think of myself that way so it's too hard to answer.
SA: Do you have
anything that you
would like to share with the boxing community?
give up on our sport. Write and email the networks asking for more boxing! I
am very grateful that the boxing community chose to accept me all those
years ago and that I have been fortunate enough to remain in this glorious
sport for over 30 years!