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Biofile Jackie Kallen Interview


By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Boxing manager will be inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend.

DOB: April 23, 1946  In: Detroit, Michigan

Childhood Sports Heroes:  Joe Louis – my step-grandmother was his teacher at school. I heard a lot about him, that he was so sweet. Hank Greenberg.

Hobbies/Interests:  Knitting, make my own sweaters. Charity work – I like going to children’s hospitals and the Detroit Rescue Mission. Helping people find jobs and dates – I have eight couples married and a couple in the works. I’m a part time matchmaker. Shopping.

Early Boxing Memory:  The first fight I ever saw in person – Thomas Hearns-Rudy Barro in 1978. I covered it as a sports reporter. I was hooked that night, boxing became my life. I remember that night so clearly… the aura of the arena, the two guys in there so intense. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.

Childhood Ambition:  Only had one dream when I was little – to be someone special, important. To accomplish something, to be known, famous. I tried acting and dancing lessons but I guess I wasn’t very good. I found I liked the behind the scenes, creating things, producing things. I wanted to be involved in something big.

Favorite Movies:  Scarface, Godfather movies, Raging Bull, A Bronx Tale, Goodfellas. Movies with a lot of action and a story to it.

Pre-Fight Feeling:  I try to explain… it’s hard… Sort of like how an expectant father would feel. Excited, nervous, worried that something could go wrong. Sounds silly. Once in a while I’ll have a dream about a fight, how it ends. It’s funny. I don’t have ESP but I’ve seen some fights of how exactly they will be. Like the first Hearns-Leonard fight. I saw Tommy up against the ropes in trouble. I had a terrible feeling about that fight. And I had a bad dream about Hagler-Hearns. And James Toney-Barkley. I dreamed that Barkley was going to get all beat up and old during the fight. Saw the whole fight pretty much ahead of time.

Musical Tastes:  I’m bombarded daily with rap music in the gym [smiles]. Michael Bolton. Barbara Streisand. Bette Midler. Boyz II Men. Rolling Stones. Bob Seger.

Greatest Career Moment:  James Toney knocking out Michael Nunn (1992). It proved so much to so many people. All the things I was saying about James were right. Ecstatic. A sense of: I knew it. Knew he could do it. The pride was enormous. I was so proud of James. I remember jumping into the ring and running over and hugging him and saying, Oh my God. I guess I was like proud mother. He was a 20-1 underdog, fighting in Nunn’s hometown (Davenport, Iowa). Everything was against him. James was so exhausted. I think he was so relieved that it ended the right way. He knew he could do it.

Funny Boxing Memory:  James is a jokester and a prankster. One time we were running in a canyon near Los Angeles. But I fall behind and walk. He hit behind a tree and pretended he was a coyote. I screamed so loud. There really were coyotes out there. Also one time he put itching powder in my son’s clothes. We dry cleaned them and still couldn’t get it out. Had to get him new clothes. James was always doing pranks like that.

People Qualities Most Admired:  Anybody who has gumption, perseverance to go against the grain. People who really believe in themselves. It’s really hard to forge your own path. I know how hard it is. It takes confidence, belief that you’re good at what you do, good self-esteem, thick skin. You’re going to hear a lot of things you don’t want to hear. I really admire people like that.

About Scoop Malinowski

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