By Sylvana Ambrosanio

I had the pleasure of interviewing ‘The First Lady of Boxing’, Jackie Kallen in 2009.

SA: You were one of the first women to be a recognizable and respectful role in boxing. How did you get involved in the sport?

JK: 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?

JK: Seeing 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?

JK: 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?

JK: 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 thoughtlessly.

SA: Do you think the world of boxing has grown, changed or decreased now that there’s MMA?

JK: The 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?

JK: Michael 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?

JK: I 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 fans.

SA: If you could change anything or turn it back what would you do?

JK: Better decisions, more amateur gyms and tournaments, better match-making.

SA: What are your short and long term goals?

JK: My 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?

JK: "What 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 involved with?

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 there?

JK: Smile a lot, be tolerant of those around you, and maintain a positive, optimistic attitude.

SA: As of right now, who are your favorite boxers?

JK: Other 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 three grandchildren.

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?

JK: Don't 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!