Monthly Archives: February 2013

Exclusive Interview with Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells ahead of her 2/21/13 fight!

UPDATE, 2/21/2013!!!

Keisher McLeod Wills with her 6th win on 2/21/13

Keisher McLeod Wells defeated Jacqui Park in their 6-round super flyweight bout by unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56. Fire is now 6-2! Jacqui Park is 1-1.


Exclusive Interview with Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells ahead of her 2/21/13 fight!

Kiesher McLeod Wells Fighting on 2/21/2013

Gleason’s own four-time New York Golden Gloves champion and professional boxer Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells (5-2, 1-KO) will be boxing again on DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing card this coming Thursday, February 21st at the world-renowned Roseland Ballroom in the heart of New York City. Fire will be facing a former four-time Canadian National Amateur champion, 36-year-old, Jaqueline Park (1-0) in a six-round super flyweight showdown.

This will be Fire’s first fight since her controversal split-decision against Patricia Alcivar. She forcefully disputes the knockdown call at the end of the 6th round–and in viewing the tape, you’d have to say it did look like a slip.

As for fighter Jacqueline Park, her four-round debut professional fight resulted in a unanimous decision over Amanda Beaudin back in September.

Tickets are still available for the Ring of Fire event ranging from $45.00 – $125.00. Contract Gleason’s Gym (212) 787-2872 to purchase tickets.

Girlboxing had a chance to pose some Q & A to Fire ahead of upcoming bout, this is what she had to say.

Keisher McLeod Wells1.  You’ve got a fight coming up on February 21, 2013 on a DiBella Entertainment, Broadway Boxing Card at Roseland Ballroom in New York City.  What can you tell Girlboxing readers about your 6-round fight against Canadian national amateur champion Jacqueline Park?

Jacqueline ParkI don’t know much about her but I know she has a boxer style like my style. I’ve heard good things about her amateur career and that’s what I like to hear. I want to fight good fighters. That’s the only way I get better. It will be interesting to fight someone with a similar style to mine as opposed to the normal and obvious, my opponents usually comes straight forward non stop. I’m used to fighting brawlers and I’ve learned how to deal with them, so I’m excited to box a boxer. However, I won’t be surprised if she changes her style to brawler though because I’m taller. I’m prepared to take on both styles.

2.  The bout is being dedicated to your sister, Bronique, who was a recent innocent victim of gun violence. What do you hope to tell the world about your sister–and the cause of ending gun violence?

My sister was a very gentle and kindhearted individual. She was a great single mother of two young kids. She would come to my fights with support. She loved bragging about me to her friends about being a younger sister to a professional boxer. I am going to miss seeing her face in the audience cheering me on. This fight is being dedicated in her memory on my behalf. This will be my first fight since her death. I took some time off after her passing to cope with the lost of her with my family. This was the first loss my family has experienced, so it hit us really hard. What was more tragic is the way we lost her. Gun violence is so out of control. Using this fight in her memory with my popularity to the sport in NY, I’m hoping to bring more awareness in ending gun violence. 

Kiesher Mcleod Wells 3rd round knock down of Patricia Alcivar, Credit: Marty Rosengarten3.  It’s been 11 months since your last outing. You fought against Patricia “Boom Boom” Alcivar, in a tough battle that saw you knock her down in the 3rd and take a shot that was ruled a knock down in the 6th. Still you were triumphant with the judges giving you a split decision win, 57-55 x 2 and 55-57. What have you learned from that fight and what sort of adjustments in your game plan are you making as you head into head into the ring on the 21st?

First, I would like to say I never took a shot from her that landed me on the canvas. I slipped after dodging an unsuccessful punch that never landed by her. You can clearly see that after they replayed it in slow motion. Even the commentaries said it wasn’t a knock down. I was so confused when they started counting. That wasn’t the first time slipping in the ring for me in my boxing career. I can get a little wobbly and clumsy sometimes, but I never been counted out for that in the past. I was upset. I felt I won unanimously regardless of the 8 count. I fought tougher fights giving me unanimous decisions. So I couldn’t understand the split decision. The only adjustment I have for any fight after the one with Patricia Alcivar, is to try not to slip again. I’ve been working a lot on leg strength this time around. So hopefully I’m done with the wobbly legs.

4.  In an article that ran in the New York Times about you two years ago, in answer to a question about how the money side of the fight game doesn’t offer much to women, you said, “I think that’s why we fight harder, because we do this for the love of the sport. There’s no money really to be made.”  After all of the hoopla about women boxing for the first time in the 2012 Olympic Games do you see any changes or an opening up of opportunities for female boxers?
I’ve notice more females making a name for them in the sport. We are getting more exposure. I’m not sure if I would give the credit to 2012 Olympic Games. Promoters here in New York haven’t changed since the games. Maybe it has elsewhere. All I know is that we are still getting paid the same here.
Keisher Mcleod Wells lands an upper cut in the Golden Gloves5.  You’re a Golden Gloves Champion four times over as an amateur and bring a 5-2 record coming into your next professional fight. What can you tell up-and-coming fighters about the difference between fighting in the amateurs and fighting as a professional boxer?

The obvious difference is that professional fighters get paid, the headgear comes off and the gloves are smaller. The rounds become longer as well. Fights are more far in between too. However, I feel the reward is greater at the end because you are training for a war that is more brutal than amateur boxing. The training is more intense and so is the fight itself. There is a lot harder punches to be felt and give without the protection amateur boxing gives.

6. Your other love besides boxing is fashion. You’ve also started a jewelry line with wonderful creations that are beginning to adorn half the women in Brooklyn–or so it seems. How are you managing to fit your two love together: boxing and jewelry making?

Being a jewelry designer is what soothes my mind in between fights and training. Each piece I make is from my mind and heart. They’re unique one of kind pieces. It’s wearable art. I get in a zone when I paint (my jewelry). So when my mind and body is tired from training, I relax it by making jewelry. Also, I get a lot of down time when I’m working at Gleason’s on Sundays. So I create here sometimes while I’m here. Some are my items are boxing related, so I find inspiration from Gleason’s.

Keisher McLeod Wells7. Where do you see yourself going from here, Fire?

I would love to be some kind of TV personality or something in that nature relating to boxing after I decide I don’t want to compete any longer. I never look ahead in the future. I live my life pretty much from week to week. If I had children then I probably would have more sight of my future. Probably a bit irresponsible, but that is the way I’ve always lived my life. I am aiming for a World Title in the near future though, however it comes.

A Boxing ‘Ohana – an update …

A Boxing ‘Ohana – an update …

Sonny & Annabelle, The Kona Boxing Club

In Hawaii, an ‘Ohana is a family. A family that may be related through blood or the kind of family the evolves around a passion or a shared set of experiences. Regardless, an ‘Ohana connotes a sacred trust of people who have each other’s back.

When it comes to The Kona Boxing Club, the idea lives in the ‘Ohana that owner and trainer Sonny Westbrook has created around boxing.

Word of the club and of Sonny’s work in the community inspired Sasha Parulis to produce a documentary she has titled, A Boxing ‘Ohana, her way of acknowledging the impact that The Kona Boxing Club has had on the lives of the young men and women who have passed through its doors–lives that have overcome shattered families, drugs, and run-ins with the law.

Kaleo Shadowboxing A Boxing 'Ohana

Now, after four years of developing her short documentary, Parulis and her crew, wrapped production earlier this year in Kailua-Kona Hawaii, on The Big Island. Sasha along with NY-based Director Cynthia Younker and Hawaii-based Director of Photography, Sam Kapoi shot the film on the island for 5 days.

The documentary focuses on how Sonny Westbrook, boxing coach of The Kona Boxing Club has helped and changed many of his boxer’s lives and others in the community. He is a man who is paying it forward in awe-inspiring ways, and the crew captured this on film through anecdotes from Sonny and perspectives of the pivotal people in his life. Sasha is currently working on prepping the next stage of the filmmaking process with editing scheduled for 2013. She is also working on marketing efforts through the film’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

For more information check out A Boxing ‘Ohana’s website here.

See also “A Boxing ‘Ohana – a documentary in the making …”

Newbie sparring …

Newbie sparring …

 Sparring, Gleason's Gym

For new boxers, the lure of sparring offers the first opportunity to put the skills they’ve been learning to the test.

That means the chance to throw the old one-two, and otherwise work on their offensive combinations, as well as using and importantly, perfecting their defensive skills.

Before sparring begins boxers need to have frank and honest conversations with their trainers as to what to expect and what the progression of their sparring training will be. Questions and issues to consider include the following:

1. Do you really want to spar? This may seem obvious, but some students feel they HAVE TO, before they are really ready to. Make certain that you are clear on what you want to do.

Gleason's Gym, All Female Boxing Card, April 20112. Are you aware of the risks? This can mean anything from a black eye, a split-lip, a broken nose, or even a concussion or other brain injury if you are hit too hard on the head or land hard on the canvas.

3. Does your trainer have your back, meaning, do you honestly trust that your trainer is going to help keep you safe from harm and have the will to stop the sparring session if he or she thinks it is getting too rough?

4. Will your trainer listen to you if after a round or two you say, “I’ve had enough”? There is no glory in getting hurt or in working past one’s own endurance. If you can’t go on, then don’t. You risk injury, dehydration or worse if you push yourself too far.

boxing mouth guard5. Do you have a good mouth guard? This is a REALLY essential piece of equipment. And frankly, you should NEVER step in the ring to spar—even to learn a few pointers with your trainer—without one.

If you think you will be sparring on a regular basis and can afford it, you might well want to go to your dentist to have one custom made. Alternatively, you can purchase decent ones from sporting goods, boxing & MMA stores online. Your local gym may also keep some on hand for sale

Boxing Head Gear6. Do you own a helmet or does your trainer have a helmet to lend you when you are in the ring? A good, safe, well-fitting helmet is a MANDATORY requirement if you intend to engage in sparring. While this might not be legally required—you should not consider sparring or even playing in the ring without one. It is THAT SERIOUS.

The helmets approved for sanctioned USA Boxing amateur fights are likely your best bet. They are padded and provide good protection for you head and jaw line and many will also do a good job of protecting your nose. All of the major boxing catalogs carry them including Ringside, Title and Everlast.

Make no mistake. These helmets do NOT protect you completely and you could still suffer from a concussion, a hematoma (bleeding on the brain), or other form of brain injury even when you wear a helmet.

What they do offer you is some protection from blows and falls, but do not replace the kind of good defensive training that will see you move your head out of harms way.

7. Do you need or want to use other protective gear? Depending upon your sparring partner, and the likely intensity of your time in the ring, you may want to wear gear that protects your lower abdomen and your genitals. There are different designs for men and women and you should make sure that you are using a design that will give you the best protection. This type of gear protects you from feeling blows to your abdomen, but again, will not protect you completely.

LaTarisha Fountain, Photo credit: Savulich/News8. Do you have a decent pair of boxing gloves to spar in? Generally, sparring is done with 12 oz. or 10 oz. gloves depending upon your weight class. Here too, you might well want to use USA Boxing approved amateur gloves. They are well padded for your protection—as well as for the protection of your sparring partner. Likely your trainer will have a decent pair for you to use if you do not own your own.

handwraps9. Are your hands wrapped properly? This is another biggy! I’m not saying that your training has to give you the full fight treatment, but at the very least you need to make sure that you are using proper clean hand wraps that will give your hands good protection.

10. A word about your sparring partner. As a Girlboxing reader put it, your sparring partner is a member of your team. While you may not know your sparring partner well, your trainer should. That means knowing the relative boxing skills of your partner, his or her strengths and weaknesses, and importantly his or her temperament. What you do NOT want to face is a beat-down. Your first sessions are to familiarize you with the ring and getting a feel for throwing your punch combinations at a live, moving human being, rather than at your trainer’s mitts or the heavy bag.

Tricia Turton, training a young boxer at Cappy's GymA responsible trainer will make sure that you are appropriately matched with a person that is going to give you the flavor of the real thing as you find your comfort zone. That means you should expect to get hit, but not as if you were competing in the Golden Gloves. Again, what you are aiming for is the opportunity to exchange punches so that you can learn both offensive and defensive moves. What this means is that you are going to take some punches, but not hard, more like a tap to remind you to slip or otherwise defend yourself and prepare for your counter moves–not see stars.

When it comes to sparring, some trainers will take this role for themselves choosing to spar with students over several weeks or months to help perfect their student’s offensive and defensive ring skills before they let them spar with other boxers at the gym. Check with your trainer to see if this is a preference both of you share. In my opinion, unless you happen to be a phenom in the ring this is likely the safest method, especially for boxing students who only get to the gym once or twice a week.

11. Do not go it alone! If you trainer isn’t around, but your sparring partner is—do NOT spar! It’s as simple as that. You are working out with a trainer or coach for a reason: to learn the skills of the sport AND to stay safe. Sparring without your trainer in your corner is asking for trouble. Remember, your job is to protect yourself at all times and an inexperienced boxer sparring without a trainer in his or her corner is plain and simple NOT SAFE.

When you enter the ring to spar whether it’s for the first time or the 100th time, it is the real thing.

It is also a fact that many novice boxers are itching to spar from the moment they put on the gloves their very first day in the gym—sometimes to the point of throwing caution out the door.

After spending weeks, if not months, shadow boxing in front of the mirror and throwing jab, jab, right, slip, straight right, left hook combinations at your trainer’s pads the prospect of actually sparring can be very exciting indeed.

Sparring, though, is also a big responsibility for your sparring partner and for you—after all, you could get lucky and throw a left hook that connects beyond your wildest imagination. You also owe it to yourself to be mindful of the boxer’s credo to protect yourself at all times to which I will add an extra level of caution to say, when in doubt, sit it out.

And one more thing–if you DO get hit hard and your head hurts, you have difficulty seeing, you have a headache or lose consciousness, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. It is much, much better to be safe than sorry!

What’s with all the shooting?

What’s with all the shooting?

Clint Eastwood

My first awareness of violence was of the family kind. I have no memory of witnessing the violence, rather my memories are of mind-numbing fear that started in my stomach before it froze my bowels as if I’d been stabbed through and through with huge icebergs of pain. It took me until my adulthood to comprehend that I’d witnessed that kind of violence–and to come to terms with what it meant.

That searing experience changes a person one way or another and goodness knows how many children walk around with PTSD without the fanfare that accompanies soldiers coming home from war or the counseling that’s available to first responders after they experience something particularly horrific.

Gun violence adds yet another patina of pain, suffering and misery to the litany of personal violence that is a seeming epidemic that keeps rolling on.

My own relationship to violence was odd.

On the one hand, my parents were radical pacifists for a time and organized “Ban the Bomb” rallies in the late 1950s and early 1960s while violence at home remained in the hidden recesses of our family’s psyche — with no sense of the remarkable contradiction between the public and private spheres of our lives.

Ban the Bomb Rally, City Hall Park, New York City, 1959

My own education about violence was related to the atom bomb. As a six-year-old, I probably knew more about the effects of nuclear radiation on human beings than most adults do now. I also knew about the shadow people — shadows left behind like one-dimensional ghosts of the people who had been killed mid-stride when the bomb hit Hiroshima. The thought of nuclear war haunted me and if I heard a lone plane flying over head at night I would wonder if that was the “one” that would finally bomb New York.

Annie OakleyMy pacifism aside — I was still attracted to guns.

After all, they were everywhere.

They were America.

They were the good guys: cowboys, soldiers fighting Nazi’s (even at six, and pacifism aside, I figured that one out), and crime fighters.

They were the West: America as rugged individualists.

Heck even Annie Oakley was a sharp shooter. What could be wrong with that?

Also when I was six, and having my tonsils out, I was offered the choice between two presents: a doctor’s kit or a gun. I have a keen memory of agonizing over the choice. I really wanted the gun, but opted for the doctor’s kit figuring it was easier to take the path of least resistance rather than having to “explain” the other choice.

Fast forward to what feels like a million years between 1960 to 2013 in terms of the cultural changes in the United States, and one can find an important constant that remains in place: our fascination with guns. The ubiquitous gun, however, has taken on other meanings. I would argue that it has become a pawn in our continuing cultural wars not only along the fracture lines of our blue state/red state dichotomy, but along our class wars: with images of the slick urban dwelling post-modernist  versus the community loving, church going denizen of “heartland” small towns, not to mention the constant of the racial divides that continue to eat away at our souls.

Tony Montana, ScarfaceIs it any wonder that a youth without prospects for education or meaningful employment would find in a gun an opportunity for empowerment in an otherwise nihilist pit of existential dread otherwise known as a sense that his or her life is without purpose and that the only likely opportunity is prison followed by an early death?

A long sentence I know, but that’s likely what that sort of powerlessness feels like. A long sentence with nowhere to go.

Such powerlessness, however, is not only in the purview of a gang-banger from The Bronx or a meth-head from rural Arkansas.

Along the cultural divide there is the powerlessness against that changes that have brought many of us enormous social progress. That social change can be thought of as a tone poem to President Johnson’s Immigration Act of 1965 (his other Civil Rights act) as it allowed peoples from all over the world without regard to color, religion or nationality, to immigrate to America based on the skills they would bring with them. This has led to an enrichment of the cultures and religions that make up America and has literally changed the social reality that defines who an American is. To those who feel threatened by this new reality, the horizon of the future is often a dystopic vision fraught with images of marauding bands of killers, akin, no doubt, to the thundering hoards from the East who “threatened” Europe in bygone eras. For the preppers and others who follow similar lines of thinking, the answer has been to circle the wagons of old with lots of weapons at the ready just in case the dystopic vision actually happens. In some cases this amassing of weapons has had tragic outcomes as in a recent case where a man mistook a couple in a car who’d rode into the wrong driveway for a pair about to perpetrate a home invasion.

We also have a nightly diet of violence from cop shows and even medical shows — some that run for years and years — all of which rely on guns for drama whether it’s a hostage situation in the ER or the mandatory weekly shoot outs on our favorite police procedurals. They also tend to perpetrate the worst dystopic visions of urban dwelling and often paint the criminals who commit crimes as an assortment of Blacks and Latinos with nothing more on their minds than drive-by-shootings and robbing bodegas.

On the “good guy side”, I’ve lost count as to how many people Michael Weston’s killed on Burn Notice — just about all without remorse, but jeez, along the way, he and Fiona sure have put together a lot of really cool weapons. And I guess that’s the point — it gets to be a form of soft porn. ‘Real easy to watch ’cause it’s not too hard-core, no consequences to speak of and seems in the realm of the possible when it comes to empowering the “little guy.” Isn’t that what Weston’s doing, a sort of vigilante for scared victims of bad guys aka bullies? Sound familiar?

As to where they get all those groovy toys (obviously illegally) — I guess it’s the same place young kids get them: somewhere in never, never land, where “legal” guns disappear and morph into Saturday night specials that kill children in the crossfire. So my question is, if we abhor this kind of violence so much how come it’s still so easy to obtain guns illegally? It’s not as if there aren’t any laws against it.

As for legal weapons, does this infatuation with the gun explain the lone crazies that arsenal up with all manner of assault rifles and related gear, figuring that if they’re going to go out they’ll do it splashed all over the headlines? Does it resolve the dilemma of how many of these shooters have been on prescription drugs for mental problems? Hard to say. I’ll add that some percentage of those medications come with serious side effects that include things that say, may exhibit violent tendencies, homicidal rages and the like. Can we develop the will to resolve that?

I’ll add that before we rush to judgment, warehouse mental patients, ban every weapon or send five-year-old kids to lock-up because they bring their Mommy’s (legal) pistol to school for “show and tell” — we might want to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our infatuation with the gun as a notion of America and as the “peacemaker” that resolves all of our problems. We might also want to ask about our addiction to watching, if not participating in violence given the number of felonious assaults, and instances of rape, domestic violence and child abuse perpetrated on a daily basis in the media and in real-life.

When it comes to violence, we have a remarkable capacity to perpetrate it. What guns offer is that little something extra that threatens lethality with its remarkable power giving one that “big man on campus” rush. It is however, not the “be all and end all” of violence, after all, a million Rwandan’s died not from gunshot wounds but by men wielding machetes.