By Jackie Kallen
As a boxing manager, it is always a difficult decision when it comes to signing a new boxer. It is a huge commitment on both parts and there has to be trust, camaraderie, and mutual respect. That can be hard to find in this (or any) sport.
I first saw Leandre “Blue” White when he made his pro debut on January 6, 2012 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He fought a kid named Dorian Hatcher who was 1-1 at the time. Blue stopped him in the 3rd round. Hatcher wanted another shot at the fledgling welterweight so they fought again in March. Blue won again, this time by decision.
I liked what I saw. I knew he had over 100 amateur fights under his belt as well as six Detroit Golden Gloves titles. He won a bronze medal in the nationals and it was obvious he had talent. He also has swag–a natural confidence that is either there or it’s not. It can’t be taught.
Blue also comes from a loving–if small–family. He was raised by his single mom Debra, who is supportive and encouraging. Much like James Toney, Blue is an only child who is close to his mother. I am very familiar with that dynamic.
We spoke about possibly working together, but Blue, who is trained by Javen “Sugar” Hill (who is Emanuel Steward’s nephew)l, was solidly entrenched at Kronk. A naturally loyal person, Blue wasn’t sure that he wanted to step outside of the Kronk family.
He fought Anthony Woods in early October 2012 and won again. At this time, we all knew that Emanuel Steward was gravely ill. On October 25, Steward passed away. This threw the entire Kronk team into disarray. The gym was closed immediately and the fighters and trainers dispersed.
Blue landed at Bad Boy Gym in Royal Oak (just north of Detroit) and I stopped in one day to see how he was doing. I had kept him on my radar and he had done the same with me. Blue definitely needed a manager. He had racked up only three fights in 14 months–certainly not enough activity for a 23-year old, hungry fighter.
I sat down with Blue and Sugar Hill and we came to an understanding. Sugar is happy to focus on training, Blue wants to be able to concentrate on fighting only, and I like to do what I have been doing for decades: Manage. For the time being, Blue will fight between 147-154 until he decides where he is most comfortable. He has the height and reach to campaign in either weight class.
So the journey begins. We will probably fight a few more four-rounders and then move on to sixes and eights. Depending on his conditioning and stamina, we will feel it out as we go. The process of building a boxer is a tricky and complex one. One misstep can change the whole plan.
I am optimistic that Leandre White will develop into a strong, accomplished boxer. He has a great personality, loves doing interviews and interacting with people, and has “the right stuff.” The rest is up to our team
Coming from Michigan, it is easy to say: Go, Blue!
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