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Jill Emery: Next Act
By Bernie McCoy
November 4, 2007


(NOV 4) It's Halloween on Front Street in Brooklyn and the sidewalk is crowded with miniature witches, pirates, and assorted superheroes, all carrying large "goody bags," all in search of treats from this waterfront street's merchants. Weaving through the crowd is a tall woman, dressed casually, carrying a large workout bag; on this stretch of Front Street that's generally the costume of a boxer heading for a work out. The next day, the children, certainly a bit more supercharged on sugar, will be back in their usual school day garb. The tall woman will probably look much the same as on this day, on her way to the same destination, the most famous of Front Street addresses, Gleasons Gym.

"I came to New York to be an actress," Jill Emery says, "I got involved in boxing as a result of going to work out at a boxing gym, seeking a way to alleviate the stress that comes right along with the acting scene. In the gym, I kept hearing about the Golden Gloves and I decided to give it a try. From there it was an almost natural evolution into the world of amateur boxing. Then came seventy bouts in the US and a fair number of foreign countries." Emery, possibly out of a sense of modesty, neglects mention of the fact that she won 62 of those 70 amateur bouts, captured the 2004 Women's World Boxing Tournament 138 pound title and was honored, that year, as the USA Boxing Female Athlete of the Year. "And, then, in another evolution," she notes, "in 2005, I decided to give professional boxing a try."

Meet Jill Emery and you have no problem with the "aspiring actress" part of the tale, she looks the part; in show business it's called "type casting." It's the boxer piece of the story that takes a bit of getting used to. Jill Emery looks like the centerpiece of the "What's a nice girl like you doing in a sport like this" poster. "I get that a lot," Emery confirms, "in fact when I started getting publicity from boxing in the amateurs, I received a bunch of call backs from theatrical agents who, previously, had no time for me as an actress. They all wanted to take a look at me for female boxing parts. But when I showed up, every one of them said, 'Sorry, you just don't fit the part of a boxer.' Here I was doing pretty well in the ring and these guys are telling me I don't look like a boxer. Right...only in show business."

As far as professional boxing, to date, Emery has had nine fights, winning eight over a two year career. Her lone loss came in January, a ten round split decision, in Germany, to Karolina Lukasik. "Fighting a European fighter in Europe is never easy," Emery allows, when asked about the decision. "I just didn't do enough to win the bout....(pause).....in Germany," she says, displaying both a diplomatic flair and the fact that an actress, working or otherwise, always maintains a great sense of timing no matter what line she's delivering. Her last bout was an eight round unanimous decision over Angel McKenzie in Dublin, Ireland in June. It's an experience Emery would like to repeat. "They're taking female boxing slowly over there. Katie Taylor has done some great things and seems to have a big future.The reaction to our bout was just outstanding. I'd love to go back and fight again; the setting was wonderful and the fans were terrific. It was one of the best experiences of my boxing career, thus far."

Emery's next big boxing role is scheduled for December 6 in Lemoore, CA, where she'll share the stage with Terri Blair in an eight round bout for the NABF super lightweight title. "It's my toughest professional fight to date. She (Blair) has been in with some great competition and she has very good punching power. But, I'm really looking forward to the bout, particularly at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino, which has become a hotbed for Women's boxing. I was there for the Ann Maire Saccurato/Jessica Rakoczy fight in September and that was as good an example of female boxing as you'll see. The same people who made the fight in September, Christian Printup, the promoter, and Jill Diamond from the NABF, put together my fight with Terri Blair on December 6 and I feel it will be a great followup to the September card. In addition to the NABF crown, the winner of our bout is in line for a WBC title fight and that's my ultimate goal, a world title."

The tall woman, having managed to avoid the witches, pirates and superheroes, starts up the stone stairs to Gleasons. At the top of those stairs, there are the familiar sights and sounds of a big time boxing gym; arguably, the most famous gym in this, the most famous of cities. Gleasons is not a Broadway rehearsal hall and the sport of boxing is not legitimate theater, but with a bit of imagination, it comes close. Thus, in a sense, Jill Emery has gotten close to the type of spotlight she first came to New York in search of. And on December 6, in Lemoore, CA, she'll be a featured player in an eight act, two person performance that should generate some rave reviews. It's the next act in what could turn out to be a very long run.

Bernie McCoy

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