Jackie Kallen is one of boxing's first and most successful female managers. Her life was the inspiration for the film Against the Ropes in which she had a brief speaking role as a reporter.
A show business journalist for a magazine in the 1970s, Kallen interviewed the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and countless others. In 1977 she was assigned to interview a boxing prospect from the Kronkgym in Detroit, Michigan, Thomas Hearns. Kallen became fascinated with sports and began working as a sports journalist specializing in boxing.
Kallen spent a decade as Hearns' publicist as Hearns went on to face Sugar Ray Leonard in two championship fights. In the process she became well known around Detroit's boxing circles but met with sexism along the way.
Kallen made her managerial debut with heavyweight Bobby Hitz in 1988. She managed her first champion in 1991, James Toney knocking out Michael Nunn in eleven rounds to win the IBF world Middleweight title. Another Kallen fighter, Bronco McKart, won the WBO world Jr. Middleweight title in 1994.
Her business relationship with Toney was controversial but allowed her to gain celebrity among boxing's hard-core fans. She was featured in Ring and KO Magazine. Kallen referred to Toney many times as someone she loved like a son, but there were rampant rumors that she and Toney did not get along well behind the scenes. The pair had an on and off friendship until their bond was finally broken in the late 1990s.