Boxing is my second love to music. As a little girl, I remember sitting with my father watching Sugar Ray Leonard fight on television. My father would shadow box as if he were Leonard’s contender. At seven, my father taught me the proper boxing stance and how to throw a jab. My father would always reiterate that he was teaching me this only as self defense. As a teenager, those boxing moments with my father became a distant memory, when cheerleading and ballet became typical activities for this girlie girl. About four years ago, I became reacquainted with my love for boxing. I decided to take up boxing as a way of losing weight and getting into shape. The more I trained and developed the same skills as any boxer about to get into the ring, the more I became fascinate with the sport. Now as an adult watching boxing on television, I too shadow box as if I were Floyd Mayweather, Jr.‘s contender.
Where are the female boxers? Of course there is Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammed Ali, who has made a name for herself in the ring. But why aren’t female boxers getting the same exposure as their male counterparts? Thanks to independent film Girl Fight starring Michelle Rodriguez and Academy Award winning film Million Dollar Baby starring Hilary Swank, more female boxers are getting into the ring and getting noticed.
I had the pleasure of attending the Barney Ross Book Release Event at the world famous Gleason’s Boxing Gym on Saturday August 8th. Gleason’s, located under the Brooklyn Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, is the training home of many world famous boxers such as Muhammad Ali, Jake La Motta, Mike Tyson and Zap Judah. In the past few years, Gleason’s has become the home of such female boxers as Melissa Hernandez, Belinda Laracuente, and newly turned pro Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells who fought a four round exhibition fight in the famous gym for hundreds of on lookers during the event.
The event was not only an opportunity to showcase an up and coming talent in boxing, it also celebrated the release of Douglas Century’s book Barney Ross, which is part of Nextbook’s Jewish Encounters Book Series. Today’s most famous Jewish boxer and Jr. Welterweight Champion, Dimitry Salita was in attendance to show support of the book’s release. The event combined my two loves, music and boxing. DJ Solico, from Israel, spun a blend of the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Nas and Common with Middle Eastern hip hop, dancehall, and reggae, which were a great vibe for all those in attendance wanting to unleash their inner Rocky on a heavy bag.
Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells took time out and spoke to JohnSimonDaily.com about her beginnings in boxing, her future in boxing, as well as advice to future women boxers.
Dana Bingham: How long have you been fighting?
Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells: Since 2002
DB: What made you get in to boxing?
Fire: Actually boxing found me. I never got into it. I’m a professional actor, actually, and a model. So I saw this as a way to stay in shape. I was pretty much recruited by a coach for a team of girls. He thought I had all the attributes to be a champion. To make a long story short, he promised me a championship in a year. In a year, I won my first title and I never turned back, I kept going.
DB: How does your family feel about you boxing?
Fire: Well my mother was very apprehensive in the beginning. I was very thin when I told her that I wanted to be a boxer, so she was scared for me until she saw me fight. After that she was always scared for my opponent.
DB: Now that you are a pro, who are some of the competitors you want to go head to head with?
Fire: I’m very early in my pro career. So right now I only fight in their country, so I have to be really prepared. Right now, Susie Kentikian, she is from Germany and she holds all the titles in my weight class. That’s my goal, to hold a world title. To be honest, I really don’t have a particular fighter. When an opportunity appears, no matter who it is, in my weight class, is who I will fight.
DB: Out of all the great fighters out there, who are some you look up to and/or model your fighting style after?
Fire: Well most of my the fighters I look up to are all men. There isn’t any particular female fighter who I would say I would like to be. Sugar Ray Robinson, Mayweather, Muhammed Ali, Tommy Herns, and Marc Breland. Marc Breland is actually my trainer right now. We have a lot of the same attributes, so it was the right thing for him to be my trainer.
DB: What would you like to say to encourage more women to get into boxing? Especially those women who want to, but don’t think it’s feminine enough of a sport.
Fire: Look at me. I’m very girlie. I wear make-up in the ring if I’m allowed. I like lace, I like frills, as you can see. I like to direct people to my YouTube page because I’m as feminine as it comes. The first thing you need to learn is the basics. I really get hit. But I stay true to who I am. I’ll get a fat lip, but I still can be girlie. Boxing is not a manly-looking sport any more, if you look at Susie Kentikian or even Laila Ali, they’re beautiful.
Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells Promo