By Sean Crose
Kaliesha West is different…and not because she’s a female boxer. West is different because, unlike most fighters – or even most people, in general – she has an ability to express herself in a way that lets the listener know she’s given whatever it is she’s talking about some some real thought.
Kaliesha makes weight today
“I make the same as a low income family,” she states on a YouTube video. This, despite the fact that she is both a highly skilled, and highly decorated, athlete. “It’s really hard to see reality, but, you know, I’ve just pretty much taken it in and accepted it.”
Unlike, say, the UFCs Ronda Rousey, top female boxers have yet to break into the pop culture consciousness. West believes that’s only a matter of time – and she’s probably right. Still, it will be a shame if someone like West, who makes it a point to speak out on behalf of women boxers, doesn’t at some juncture get to reap in the fruits of her labors.
On Friday, however, West will once again have to speak with her fists. For she’s facing Canadian fighter Olivia Gerula in Gerula’s home country of Canada. Not that fighting in someone else’s back yard bothers West.
“I have traveled several times out of my home country and fought hometown favorites,” she says. “I am undefeated on the road and plan on keeping it that way.” Indeed, fighting abroad is something West knows well. Mexico, Peru, even Denmark, these are the places West has been to in order to ply her trade.
And she’s right. She’s never lost abroad. Not once. In fact, she’s only lost once in 20 professional fights. There’s a reason she’s earned titles from the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and the International Female Boxers Association (IFBA). The bottom line is pretty clear – when West steps into the ring, chances are she’s going to win.
Yet, unlike a lot of top athletes, West doesn’t go in for boasting. Commenting on the upcoming Gerula fight, West had nothing but good to say to Boxing Insider about her opponent. “Olivia is a goat (greatest of all time) in the game and has been around for years,” West said of Gerula. “I have respect for her. My pops has prepared me to do my best and I believe that my best will lead me to victory.”
West’s “pops,” for the record, is Juan West, a former Navy champ who, for a short time, even fought at welterweight in a professional capacity. Juan reportedly didn’t want his daughter to follow in his footsteps, but passion is a tough thing to deny.
And West is nothing if not passionate (compare her work level to her pay scale if you question the woman’s zeal for boxing). Following the age old adage that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” the senior West became his daughters manager/trainer.
So, what can fans expect from former honor student West when she battles Gerula? Forward movement, hard body shots (lots of hard body shots), and an ability to avoid her opponent’s punches by stepping out of range.
Oh, fans also shouldn’t be surprised if West enters the ring looking like the titular character from Poe’s “Masque Of The Red Death,” complete with a hood over her head and a grotesque mask covering her face. Psychology is important in boxing, after all.
As is dedication. And West is most certainly dedicated, both to her craft and to the plight of other female boxers. The way West sees it, women train and fight as hard as men, therefore, they should be receiving equal credit, respect, and financial compensation. It’s a difficult stand to argue against, just like West is a difficult fighter to best in the ring.