Jackie Kallen is often called the “First Lady of Boxing,” but her reign of managing world champs didn’t begin with much fanfare.
“I was not exactly welcomed into the boxing community. There was no red carpet for me. I had to prove that I knew what I was doing obviously because they expect that a woman in a sport like this wouldn’t know anything, so it took a while for me to get my respect,” she said.
Kallen’s boxing career began during another barrier breaking role as a sports journalist in the 1970s.
“There would be a room full of males half dressed, male reporters and me. And sometimes they would try to do funny things to get me going — drop a towel or make a comment that was supposed to make me run out of the locker room. But I always just smiled and I would find a way of getting around it and just acting like ‘Hey, it doesn’t bother me.’” she said.
She navigated male-dominated industries by being self-assured, patient and humorous.
One assignment shifted her trajectory. When she interviewed Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns, Kallen fell in love with boxing. Starting out as a publicist, she realized she wanted to be a manager.