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Mom, the Mettlesome Manager
Tim Crothers
August 17, 1992
Jackie Kallen, parent of two, is den mother to half a dozen fighters. She wanted a champ—and got one
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August 17, 1992

Mom, The Mettlesome Manager

Jackie Kallen, parent of two, is den mother to half a dozen fighters. She wanted a champ—and got one

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Tom Jones, Please?" Jackie Kallen is on the phone. She is almost always on the phone. Her designer nails, pink polish with a Jackson Pollock motif, grip the receiver as she tries to track down Tom Jones. Yes, that Tom Jones.

With her other hand, she strokes her ever-present toy poodle, Spanky. When you are a boxing manager, as Kallen is, and a woman, you often find yourself alone on the road, so companionship is important. Spanky is upset this morning because it's crowded in Kallen's room at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

With her other hand, Kallen is modeling a gold bracelet for Sarah Donkins, the girlfriend of IBF middleweight champ James Toney. "Isn't it cuuuuute?"

"Yes," Donkins says. "It's also mine. Where did you find that?"

It's 11 a.m. on a February morning, and the 46-year-old Kallen is calling her buddy Tom Jones to invite him to the next afternoon's bout matching her fighter, Toney, against Dave Tiberi. But Kallen is stuck on hold. In the meantime an ABC television producer appears, and Kallen is discussing the possibility of signing a new fighter to her stable. "The knock on him is he's not colorful enough, but I'll make him colorful," she says, putting on her p.r. hat. "I'll mold him like raw clay. We'll bulk him up for power, and then he needs to crouch a little to punch harder."

Her son Brad walks in. Tom will have to call back. "Let's make up a press kit of your band for Tom," says Kallen.

"C'mon, Mom."

"No, you c'mon, this is a great opportunity." Brad, a 21-year-old college student, is in a rap/dance band called TKO, and Jackie is determined that Tom Jones hear it, so she carefully constructs a makeshift press kit, sealing a demo tape inside.

Then she steps out into the hallway for a breath of air—and spots Frank Garza, a judge for the Toney-Tiberi fight. "Hey, it's great to see you again," she says, schmoozing as she switches to her manager's hat. "I hope you won't need to watch our fight. But if you do, I know you'll see it our way."

Back in the room she announces she must go to the bathroom. She has been planning the trip all morning.

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