Jackie Kallen

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Jackie Kallen (born Jackie Kaplan, April 23, 1946) is one of boxing's first and most successful female managers. Her life was the inspiration for the film Against the Ropes[1] in which she had a brief speaking role as a reporter. She also worked as a consultant for Mark Burnett's reality TV series The Contender.[2]

Early life[edit]

Kallen was raised in a middle-class Jewish family in Detroit.[3]


A show business journalist for a magazine in the 1970s, Kallen interviewed the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and countless others. In 1977 she was assigned to interview a boxing prospect from the Kronk gym in Detroit, Michigan, Thomas Hearns. Kallen became fascinated with sports and began working as a sports journalist specializing in boxing.

Kallen spent a decade as Hearns' publicist as Hearns went on to face Sugar Ray Leonard in two championship fights. In the process she became well known around Detroit's boxing circles but met with sexism along the way.

Kallen made her managerial debut with heavyweight Bobby Hitz in 1988. She managed her first champion in 1991, James Toney knocking out Michael Nunn in eleven rounds to win the IBF world Middleweight title. Another Kallen fighter, Bronco McKart, won the WBO world Jr. Middleweight title in 1996.

Her business relationship with Toney was controversial but allowed her to gain celebrity among boxing's hard-core fans. She was featured in Ring and KO Magazine. Kallen referred to Toney many times as someone she loved like a son, but there were rampant rumors that she and Toney did not get along well behind the scenes. The pair had an on and off friendship until their bond was finally broken in the late 1990s.

Kallen was diagnosed both with heart disease and cancer during that decade, but after three surgeries she recovered and is enjoying good health.

Kallen currently lives in the Detroit area and manages three professional boxers, including Bronco McKart and a prospect from the Philippines.

She recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ray's 'Hip-Hop Literacy' campaign encouraging reading books about boxing personalities.

Personal life[edit]

Jackie was married to Gary Kallen from 1967-1998.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ebert, Roger (2013-02-05). Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2007. Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 4–. ISBN 9780740792199. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Jackie Kallen joins NBC's 'The Contender' as "den mother" for aspiring boxers". Reality TV World. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  3. ^ "Jackie Kallen". www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2018-08-24.

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