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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:39 am 
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'For the love of Boxing': Exclusive Interview with Kaliesha West

link: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-1094 ... iesha-West

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(click the link for video of the interview)

Struggling to contain her excitement and anxiety as she packed her bags and knocked down some last minute necessities on the eve of her flight to Peru where she will be facing Vannessa Guimaraes on June 26, 22-year old boxing prodigy Kaliesha West stopped by to give us the 411 on her training camp.

"I just want to get over there and fight and get it out the way. It's been two months that we've been talking about it then we finalized it about a month ago," Kaliesha revealed to me, and added, "We've been excited for so long. I'm just anxious to get there and get going."

It's truly a beautiful thing when passion and excellence come together and it doesn't hurt either when it comes in an aesthetically beautiful packaging. But don't let her disarming beauty, charm and bubbly personality fool you, Kaliesha or Kay as her close friends call her, is all business when she steps inside the boxing ring. And she definitely is 'DA BIZNEZ'.

Boxing is what she does and she loves every ounce of sweat, pain and hardship that comes with it. Growing up around the sport and watching her dad Juan who is also a former boxer, Kaliesha fell in love with boxing at an early age. "I grew up around it and I'm the type of person that once I get started in something, I'm very stubborn, and I never quit. You would literally have to shoot me to quit. I don't stop. When I was younger my dad, he used to coach a whole team of fighters when he retired. I just remember all the fighters, huddling up, going in the car and going to all these different gyms and I used to be like 'I wanna go dad! I wanna go!' and I'd go and I tag along and sometimes I'd have to run out or I'd get left behind. Being around it, it was just all so fun to me. I got so much excitement out of it, adrenaline rush. I grew to love it so I was pretty much raised, born, bred into boxing," the former Golden Gloves champ told me.

Being around boxing definitely helped nurture her interest for the sport, but don't get it twisted, it's her genuine fascination that truly galvanized her path in the sweet science. "I have an older brother who is a year and a half older than me and he's golf. That's what he loves to do. It's nothing about being forced to do it, because I know a lot of people think that my dad being my coach pushes me to do it, it's more of this inner drive, this inner love that I have for it," Kaliesha pointed out.
“We were looking at some old videos of my fights and there was little Kaliesha yelling ‘come on dad, hit him dad’, you could hear her clearly,” Kaliesha's dad Juan said in an older interview with thesweetscience.com. “She used to beg me to let her box. I would tell her girls don’t box.. She kept bugging me to let her box.”
The bugging paid dividends.

Kaliesha is currently ranked as one of the top female bantamweight fighters in the world and if it weren't for a rather questionable draw in her last fight where she faced 24-1 world bantam champ Anita Christensen in her backyard in Denmark last March, she'd very well be a world champion right now.

Never to be derailed, the always optimistic West simply shrugged off the draw and went back to the gym to train harder than ever. She together with Filipina boxing sensation Ana Julaton have been turning heads at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood where they both have been training for their upcoming bouts. The two female stars have been pushing each other in their sparring sessions that has onlookers buzzing at the way these two go at it at such a high level. And I'm telling you, they go HARD! Boxing writer David Avila who was a witness to the sparring sessions wrote, "As the two top flight females exchanged blistering punches all I could think was HBO or Showtime should get a load of this. America is missing something."

"She's a phenomenal boxer. She goes in there and she's a world title level boxer. She's game and she has great boxing skills. She's been boxing for a long time and on top of all of that too, she's a classy lady," Julaton described West when I recently spoke to her.

"They're real intense. She's more of a fighter as to my style is a boxer. So we go hand-in-hand to tactically take one another apart. It's like we're both learning off one another constantly. Like each round is very intense. She is a smart fighter as well as I, so she's correcting my mistakes and I'm correcting her mistakes and it's going back and forth that we're learning from one another," West described the sparring sessions.

Witnesses can't help but think of the spirited battles between West and Julaton inside the Wild Card as a female version of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and why wouldn't they? The duo aren't only two of the best right now, they are also two of the most charismatic and recognizable figures in women's boxing here in the US. If I were Bob Arum or Golden Boy, I'd definitely start paying more attention to these girls. If their sparring alone generates as much firepower, imagine what a title fight between these two down the road would be like?

For now however, and as the big time promoters here in the US continue to malign and not give women's boxing their due, we'll follow both women's quest for glory with Julaton fighting on June 30 in Ontario, Canada and West in Peru this Saturday.

Talking to West and watching women's boxing really takes one back to the fundamentals and the things that make boxing the beautiful sport that it truly is. A self-professed super fan of Muhammad Ali, West's love and enthusiasm for boxing is an ingredient that the sport could use more of these days. When you're fighting for a childhood dream in a society that's not necessarily been fair to your gender and the checks aren't anywhere close to the number of zeros in Pacquiao and Mayweather's, how can you not admire the passion and commitment of women like Kaliesha West? It's down right infectious and absolutely inspiring and it's a shame you don't really get to read or hear about it much and instead you have to listen to all the whining, baseless steroids accusations and all the trash talk that definitely has left a black eye on the sport of boxing.

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