By Jackie Kallen
Where would I be without Bill “Pops” Miller? He single-handedly changed my life when he agreed to come on board and train my young middleweight James Toney back in 1989. He was training at the legendary Kronk Gym back then and he was kind enough to see my vision and share it. He joined my Galaxy Boxing Team and did wonders for all the guys.
I had known Bill Miller since 1978 when I started working with Emanuel Steward and the Kronk team. Originally from Cincinnati, Bill had been a a champion amatuer boxer. He learned his craft from former world champion Joe Carter and the great Whitey Bimstein (trainer of 25 world champions including Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano and Jake LaMotta.) At the age of seventeen, Miller turned professional and achieved world status as a welterweight with a record of 26 wins and only 4 loses.
In 1950 Miller began training boxers including Alvin Hayes, Darnell Knox, Greg Coverson, Caveman Lee, Willie Edwards, Darryl Cunningham, Rickey Womack and even a young man named Emanuel Steward (when Steward was a National Golden Glove Champion.)
He was also a boxing historian who knew everything there was to know about the sport he so deeply loved. He was as much a teacher as he was a coach. He believed in teaching a young fighter the basics before anything else and instilling a sense of discipline, decency, and honor in all the boxers he trained.
His beloved wife Beverly was always at his side, helping to cook for the fighters and attending all the fights with him. She lovingly cared for Bill since he retired from the sport.
When very few saw James Toney’s potential, Bill Miller did. He worked tirelessly with him to perfect his amazing defense and sharpen his strength and fearlessness. He did the same for Bronco McKart, who earned his championship title thanks to Miller’s excellent training.
I wish there were more trainers like Bill Miller today, but the new breed is not quite like the Eddie Futches, Georgie Bentons and Bill Millers. I know he is with all of them now and I am sure they are sharing a treasure chest full of wonderful boxing stories.
Bill Miller will be in my heart forever.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen