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Straight Talk:
One on One Interview with Promoter Jerry Hoffman

Interviewed by Sue TL Fox
June 6, 2009


(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 interest.

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 boxing?

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 the sport?

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 became doomed.

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 card together?

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 boxing.

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.

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