By Jackie Kallen
During the 1990s when James Toney ruled the Middleweight and Super-Middleweight divisons, I ran the successful Galaxy Boxing Gym here in the Detroit area. All of my fighters trained there from Bronco McKart to Tarick Salmaci to Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson to a young Damian Fuller. We had tons of visiting boxers like Thomas Hearns, Christie Martin, etc. It was a bustling gym with two boxing rings and plenty of great sparring.
In 1997, I moved to Los Angeles and spent a lot of time at the local gyms out there. I opened up a gym with the LA Sheriff’s Department for the kids in South Central, but it was never the same as my old Galaxy Gym. I missed the days of Chris Johnson, Terry Pitts, Scotty Buck, Warren Jackson, Rob Diffanbaugh, Mike Honsinger, Bernard Harris, Joseph Kiwanuka and all the other terrific kids who walked through those doors. Our roster was a who’s who of Detroit boxing.
It is 15 years later and fate has brought me back to my old stomping grounds–the Motor City. I still believe this city has more boxing talent than most other American cities put together. These streets have turned out so many talented fighters and I know there are probably plenty more waiting in the wings. They just need a place to train and develop their skills and achieve their goals.
Joe Donofrio, a lifelong friend of mine, has been promoting boxing and MMA in Detroit for years. It was only natural to join forces with him to form a plan to revitalize boxing in this city. We are both loyal fans of the sport as well as involved boxing personalities. To round out the picture, we got together with Mike Smith of the Masonic Temple Theater Company and hatched a plan.
The Masonic Temple is one of the most historic buildings in Michigan. It has a rich history in the entertainment field and still hosts a plethora of concerts, weddings, special events and sporting events. It is the home of the Detroit Derby Girls. So why not make it the new mecca of boxing in Motown? It is located right downtown near the stadiums, casinos and Wayne State University. It is close to the Detroit Medical Center and plenty of city offices.
We plan to open the doors by October 1 to all the amateur and pro boxers in the city. We will also offer boxing training to recovering heart patients, kids with emotional disabilities, downtown executives yearning to let off some steam, and other groups who want to take advantage of the amazing benefits of a boxing workout.
We will be available for film shoots and private parties. Our staff will be skilled and dedicated, just the way the Galaxy Boxing Gym was in the past. We plan to develop a solid amateur team and also put together a group of top pro fighters.
Our team will also be promoting regular shows at the Masonic Temple under the Donofrio Boxing banner. In this way we can offer prospective contenders a place to train, excellent management, and a chance to fight often. A new dynasty is set to begin. We will also work closely with the other boxing gyms in the city to offer the opportunity for good cross-sparring and friendly camaraderie.
The first boxing show will be a fundraiser on Saturday, October 27 at the Crystal Ballroom of the Masonic Temple. Besides some exciting matches, we will have celebrity guests and other surprises.
As the program grows, we plan to add housing facilities for out-of-town boxers, a professional training camp atmosphere with in-house chefs and conditioners, and our own PR staff. I can’t even begin to express how excited I am about this project.
Of course there is still a lot to do. We need good trainers, good equipment and sponsorship help. We want this to be a city-wide project that will be a major part of Detroit’s massive rejuvination efforts.
To offer suggestions, ideas, sponsorship or for other inquiries, contact me at [email protected]
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