(JUNE 6) Jerry Hoffman, creator and
owner of 12 Sports Productions has been a shining light for women's
boxing throughout the years. Hoffman has continued to promote
boxing, among his other multi-professional talents.With Hoffman's vast
experience in dealing with women's boxing "firsthand" WBAN has
featured Hoffman in our first episode of "Straight Talk".
TL Fox: Jerry, first off, I would like to thank you for
taking the time to be interviewed on WBAN's first-ever "Straight
Talk". "Straight Talk" is a segment that gets the straight scoop,
from a promoter's perspective.
J Hoffman: My pleasure Sue. Hope my experiences can be of
TL Fox: In what year did you promote your first card, that
included a female bout? Who were some of the first females you put
on your cards when you began featuring them?
J Hoffman: I promoted my first female bout in 1994 featuring
a Sacramento school teacher making her pro debut named Rebecca
Cesena against Lori Lazereen from Texas. Her trainer Richard Lord
became her husband about a year after the bout. They fought 6 two
minute rounds. Lori won on points. The show was called SHAKEDOWN IN
QUAKETOWN at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Jolene Blackshear was
another early female fighter I featured, and after 15 years, we
reconnected at her most recent fight in San Jose. A decision win
over Melissa McMorrow. It was Jolene's first fight in over 9 years.
TL Fox: What was the initial reaction of boxing fans, when
you began featuring women's bouts on your cards? Do you feel it
affected tickets sales, having women featured on your cards---or it
played no part in that aspect of the event?
J Hoffman: It absolutely had a positive impact. Fans were
skeptical going in, just like many promoters like Arum or King who
thought it was a novelty and would not survive, then years later
promoted women themselves. Many times, the women's bout was the
fight of the night, and I'm proud to say I included at least one
female fight in every show I've ever done. As for ticket sales, I
had some protests (Santa Cruz was always protesting something in the
early 90's) but the boxing public eventually came to expect great
female fights, and over the years, they've seen some excellent
bouts, and many future World Champions on our shows.
TL Fox: Jerry, there are many boxing promoters out there that
will not get involved with featuring women's boxing on their
cards---with that said, what drew you to support the women boxers in
their endeavor to be in this sport?
J Hoffman: I was initially trying to create any buzz possible
to promote my shows, and I knew Barbara Buttrick of the WIBF, who
encouraged me to feature a women's bout. When my first fight went 6
exciting rounds, I needed no more prompting. From that point on,
people came to expect a female fight on every one of my shows. As
for other promoters, I really don't understand why at the club show
level they would resist. It sure worked in Santa Cruz and Monterey
at the RIOT AT THE HYATT.
TL Fox: With your extensive knowledge of the sport, and in
your opinion, what do you feel are some of the top problems that you
are seeing in women's boxing that may be hurting the sport?
J Hoffman: Certainly the lack of promoters willing to commit
to the matchmaking. Women who have the heart , desire, and ability
do not get the opportunities that the men do, and they train as hard
or harder...plus generally speaking they are easier to deal with. My
sense is bigger promoters can't be bothered, and smaller ones
perceive the concept as a hassle or have some macho idea against it.
I really thought when Bob Arum had Mia St. John and Don King touted
Christy Martin that others would follow suit. Those promoters blew
it however, by not matching the marquee women tough enough to give
it legitimacy. Mia was the pin up girl and Christy had a foul mouth,
so neither was taken seriously enough. As a result fewer women who
have the skills to succeed follow through since the opportunities
are very limited.
TL Fox: Taking the gloves off for a minute, what was one of
the worst frustrating situations that you had in regards to women's
J Hoffman: I guess the worst would have to be when I matched
Carina Moreno with Julie Rubacalva. Everything was in order. It was
a California State Title fight at Jr. Flyweight. Both fighters made
weight and all was good to go, when during the weigh-in I got a call
from Dean Lohuis the chief inspector saying something was wrong with
Julie's blood work. Mr. Lohuis had approved the bout weeks earlier
and gave no indication anything was wrong. The error turned out to
be a mistake in the lab report, but I was told the only way to save
the fight was to get Julie's blood retested. The then new executive
director of boxing in California Armando Garcia was in Las Vegas,
sitting at ringside for a fight in Nevada and could not be bothered
by this last minute snafu. (Garcia and Lohuis were both fired
earlier this year) This bout was during Thanksgiving weekend 2005. I
had to take Julie to the hospital, get her blood retaken and somehow
deliver it to an open lab, test it, and provide a report before the
show. It was an impossible task...That was the only show a women's
bout was not part of our RIOT AT THE HYATT events in Monterey, and
it damaged my promotion, the fighters, and the sport of women's
boxing. Trying to get some satisfaction, I attended several
Commission meetings to plead our case, but the Department of
Consumer Affairs that runs boxing in California would not admit to
their mistake. So insult was added to injury.
TL Fox: With your many years of seeing women's boxing go
through highs and lows, what do you think it will take to see
women's boxing move up to a higher level, and into the mainstream of
J Hoffman: Sue, I have to be honest here. I think that boat
has sailed. At least in this country. I very seldom see any
meaningful fights involving North American women anymore. The sport
is respected in Europe and Asia, but not in the United States. Our
top U.S. female fighters are not getting meaningful fights.
Rematches that should happen don't, because there are so few
promoters who actually care about women's boxing. Butch Gottlieb in
Vegas manages a bunch of very talented extremely marketable women
fighters, but he's always frustrated with the lack of options out
there for them. I'm biased of course, but I believe if other
promoters were to dedicate one female bout per show, they would be
rewarded by the fan response and if matched well, the action in the
ring. Women's boxing needs to be promoted with the men and stand on
it's own merit. Women only shows seem to be regarded as a gimmick or
something conjured. It worked OK when Arnie Rosenthal was involved,
but after a while the talent pool became so depleted, the concept
TL Fox: At any time, when wearing your "promoter hat" so to
speak, have you EVER felt like throwing in the towel with the women
boxers due to situations that have happened when trying to put a
J Hoffman: Not really. I enjoy the dynamic of making a good
women's match, just as I do for the men. The fact that all boxing in
California is in such a sad state of disarray, thanks mostly to the
"reign of terror" of former Executive Director Armando Garcia, does
not bode well for our sport in the Golden State. Mr. Garcia pulled
fights without cause, micro-managed his political position to
insulate the DCA that cares little and knows nothing about boxing,
and basically screwed with 6 of my shows in a row while he was in
command. He'd gone now, but the damage remains.
TL Fox: If you could give women boxers ANY ADVICE that you
feel would further the sport, and further their boxing careers, what
would you say to them?
J Hoffman: Good question. I really don't have any reason to
think women's boxing will reach the status it deserves, so I'd be
hard pressed to offer advice other than follow their dream and
passion...hook up with a trainer who respects you, and if your
talent warrants it, find a manager like Butch [Gottlieb] who truly
cares about his female fighters as people, not just a commodity.
With so few shows featuring a women's bout, it's difficult to offer
any encouragement...especially in this economy where nobody seems to
want to think outside the box.
TL Fox: At this time it is looking very good for amateur
women boxers to be able to be included in the 2012 Olympics. Do you
feel that if this happens, that it will significantly give a boost
to the sport?
J Hoffman: It would obviously help if women got to fight in
the Olympics. But the political nature of amateur boxing, the lack
of TV airtime for boxing at any recent Olympic games, the bogus way
judges score bouts, (dexterity of pushing buttons to score points is
very flawed) the fact that headgear is worn, and the questionable
talent level of US women compared to European and Asian work against
the boost being significant in our country.
TL Fox: If you were to pick ANY female boxer in the sport
today. Are there any that stick out in your mind that you feel has
the "whole" package? Or the "It" factor?
J Hoffman: Having promoted Carina Moreno for 6 of her fights,
I know she has the "It" factor. She's the best in the World pound
for pound, and our fans in Monterey got to see her as she developed.
It was a near impossible task to find credible opponents for her,
and it still is. She has to fight out of her weight class many times
to balance the matchup. Fighters like Melinda Cooper also may have
the "whole package", but since her fights always seem to fall
through, we may never know. I've tried many times to match Carina
with Wendy Rodriguez who gave Moreno her only loss in a disputed
stoppage, but the LA fighter refuses. Carina will need to go to
Germany and fight Susi Kentikian to further her legacy. She has a
scheduled fight in Lemoore in July, but it's doubtful anyone will be
found to actually be a legit opponent.
TL Fox: In conclusion, if there is anything that I have not
asked or you, can you add your comments.
J Hoffman: Well, it's been
a pretty nice run of featuring future women World Champions over
the years. Gina Guidi, Mary Ann Almager, Leah Mellinger, and
Wendy Rodriguez come to mind, and more recently Jennifer Barber
and Kaliesha West who have great potential.
I've made fights for outstanding
women of character like Yvonne Caples and Dee Hamaguchi, and as
stated earlier, I've found working with the female fighters,
their trainers and managers to be more enjoyable overall, than
working with the men.
I feel the women appreciate the
opportunities and generally express their gratitude which goes a
long way. As a small promoter, my formula only calls for one
female bout per show (a couple promotions have had a pair of
women's bouts) but I'm proud of my 15 year dedication to the
sport of women's pro boxing, even though I've never really
stepped up and put on of my shows on TV.
A highlight certainly was working
with Ed Berliner in perhaps the greatest night of exclusive
women's boxing ever. 6 World Title fights on a single show. It
was 1995 at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Yvonne Trevino and
Regina Halmich had 3 rounds of no-stop action that was as
tremendous as Hagler-Hearns. I served at Ring Announcer, color
commentator, and I interviewed the winner of each bout in the
ring for the audience to hear. That aspect of allowing the
personality and thoughts of fighters following their bouts is an
element I've incorporated into all my shows ever since. It's
unfortunate that pro boxing in California is so screwed up with
State budget cuts and dysfunctional management, the economy
prevents sponsors from getting involved which has been a
backbone of my success over the years.
As a result, I currently sit on
the sidelines waiting for the economic conditions to improve and
for California to actually care about the "Club show" promoter
which is the essence of our sport. When and if that time comes,
I most certainly will continue to include a women's bout in
every event promoted by 12 Sports Productions. In the meantime,
I will continue to cover boxing in our area and post video blogs
on my website: www.12sportsonline.com. Visitors can punch
"Jerry's Jabs" to view all my archived writings and videos. It's
been my pleasure over the years to provide WBAN with DVD's of my
women's bouts for your readers to enjoy. My appreciation to you
Sue, for everything you continue to do in support of female
WBAN Note: In this new
segment on WBAN, I will be interviewing other prominent
promoters, and may also extend it to include interviews with
boxing managers, trainers and others.