ONE of Britain’s most high-profile boxing promoters has announced she is returning to the sport after taking time off to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Kellie Maloney, 62, who as Frank Maloney played a part in Lennox Lewis landing the world heavyweight crown, went public last August about changing genders.
Speaking at an emotional press conference in London yesterday, Maloney, who is to manage Inverness-born boxer Gary Cornish, 28, revealed one of her ambitions was to “deliver to Scotland its first heavyweight British champion”.
Twice-divorced Maloney was persuaded to return to boxing promotion after Telford amateur Tony Jones knocked on her door, asking her to manage him.
Unveiling her two new charges – Cornish, managed by Glasgow veteran Tony Gilmour, and Jones – Maloney said: “If I put it in football terms, I’ve been the manager of Manchester United and now I’m going to start managing Nuneaton Borough because I’ve got to start at the bottom again and there’s no getting away from that.”
Maloney thanked the boxing fraternity for its support, but said the welcome of the sport’s establishment had been lukewarm.
It feels like I’ve been born again, like a second chanceKellie Maloney
“The support from the lower level of boxing has been fantastic. I was surprised, if I’m being honest. It was overwhelming.
“But the top of the hierarchy has been less supportive. I don’t know if they’re worried or what.
“Nothing has been said but you can just tell by the way they look at you or when you speak to them on the telephone.
“I’ve seen interviews where you could tell certain people wanted to make a comment but couldn’t. But I’ve never been frightened to take on the establishment and I’m not frightened to do it again.”
Maloney handed back her licences to the British Boxing Board of Control in October 2013 after becoming disillusioned with the sport.
“[Being Kellie] was something that was inside of me, something I had no control over.
“Some people in the same situation cut their lives short, because they can’t handle it. I decided, with the support of my family, I would find the real me.
“And part of the real me is that I love boxing, so I wanted to give it another shot. It feels like I’ve been born again, like I’ve got a second chance in life.”
Maloney said she had believed her 30-year career was over.
“I really had no intention of coming back to boxing but this young man and his trainer kept sending me messages, saying ‘We’ve got a young fighter that wants to go into boxing and wants to be managed by you’.
“I kept saying No but out of the blue they turned up on my doorstep one Sunday morning. They came in, we sat and spoke and eventually young Tony Jones, aged 23, made me make the commitment to come back to boxing.”
Regarding Cornish, unbeaten in 20 fights, she said: “What is important is delivering to Scotland its first heavyweight British champion, its first European champion and, hopefully at the end of the line, a guy that can fight for the world title.”
Maloney added: “My goal is to produce a champion in the next 18 months and to enjoy boxing this time, instead of letting boxing wear me out and cause me health problems, like it did last time.
“And I’m hoping I can make people realise that this [transgenderism] is just a medical problem like any other medical problem.”
Commenting on Maloney’s return, Cornish, the 6ft 7in Highland heavyweight, said: “When I worked with Frank, he wanted to make me the first British heavyweight champion from Scotland.
“She’s obviously got the hunger back and underneath it all she’s still got the brain and all that knowledge. As long as she progresses my career, I’m happy. There will be a limelight on her for a while but I don’t mind.”