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Female Boxer Jackie Tonawanda: Body Guard for Ali at Deer Lake!

Female Boxer Jackie Tonawanda: Body Guard for Ali at Deer Lake!
By: Ken Hissner

Female boxer Jackie Tonawanda’s name was brought to this writer’s attention by NJ Boxing Commissioner Larry Hazzard on April 22nd at the boxing event held at the Claridge Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.


There have been many articles pertaining to female boxer Jackie Tonawanda who was born Jackie Garrett on September 04, 1933 in New York and would later in life be a female body guard for heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali at his Deer Lake boxing training camp in PA. In June 9, 2009 she passed away at the age of 75 at the Mt. Siani Hospital in Harlem, NY.

Known as “Lady Ali” Tonawanda was 35-1 with 35 stoppages in the amateurs. Though there is no confirmation on it she had one six round professional match losing to a Diane Clark. At 5:09 and 123 lbs. she couldn’t have fought middleweight Clark posted on box rec.

Tonawanda had such trainers as David Vasquez and Freddie Brown. In 1975 she sued the New York Boxing Commission for not allowing female boxers to be issued professional boxing licenses per Ed Dooley who ran the commission. She was granted a license.

Tonawanda was a personal advisor for professional heavyweight Israel “King Kong” Garcia, 20-11 (13). In November of 2003 on Cedric Kushner’s Thunder Box Tournament held at Trump’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ, were 3 round bouts and Garcia defeated “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon but lost to Maurice Harris in semi-final.

Tonawanda was a member of New York’s Ring 8 Veteran Boxers Association. Former heavyweight title challenger Gerry Cooney also a member of Ring 8 knew her from her boxing beginnings and had high praise for her.

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