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Jill Morley: From the Inside Out
by Bernie McCoy
December 13, 2010


(DEC 13) Jill Morley is an acclaimed writer, a highly praised filmmaker, a professional tennis coach/teacher and an amateur boxer. But the phrase, "Been there, done that" comes up far short of fully covering Morley's credits and achievements while, at the same time, failing to take into consideration her unique approach to storytelling. The best of the artistic chroniclers ply their talent from the inside out. Thus, it's no surprise that Morley's first documentary film success, the critically praised "Stripped" was told from inside the "adult entertainment" industry through a series of stark character driven portraits in a film the New York Times called "a bumpy ride but one worth taking." Four years ago, Jill Morley began to train her focus on the sport of Women's boxing.

"I wanted to take the time to get it right, I didn't want to slap something together just to get it out on the market," Morley told me, last week, by phone, from her home in Los Angeles. "It's a film about four women who happen to be boxers, two amateur fighters, one of whom is me, and two professionals. It's a story about why women box and how they use the sport as a tool to overcome problems common to many women, racism and abuse, primary among them. The film follows these women's diverse paths thru the sport and will, within the course of their stories, hopefully, answer many questions about an often misunderstood sport, while at the same time, dispelling stereotypes about the athletes who compete in that sport. I also sought to highlight the qualities of the women who step into a boxing ring that may have escaped even the ardent fans of the sport. I hope the film makes a small step forward in restoring Women's boxing to a prominent place on the sporting map."

The four women in the film, which was shot entirely in New York, are Morley, who had her fourth amateur bout last Saturday (a win, which she noted may be her final bout) and who has competed twice in the New York Daily News Golden Glove tournament; Susan Merlucci, a former amateur boxer; Kimberly Tomes, a veteran professional boxer who has been in the ring with Eileen Olszewski and Suzannah Warner and the best known fighter of the quartet, Maureen Shea, recent NABF featherweight title winner.

Morley provided a few further details, "The film, currently titled ' Girl in the Ring,' is feature length, around 75 minutes and is now ' in the can.' There may be some footage of recent bouts added and, in addition, there's the lengthy process of editing and color correcting along with the other technical minutiae that goes into getting the finished product onto the screen. It's a costly and detailed process, but the film should be ready for distribution in approximately five months.

On Saturday (December 17) there will be a holiday party, with a boxing theme, for the joint benefit of the film and a local program called "Knockout for Girls," a nonprofit organization that utilizes boxing to build self esteem and fitness among young females in Los Angeles. The event will be held at DAP Studios, 5660 Venice Avenue in Los Angeles from 7-10 PM with a suggested donation of $20. Among the guests will be members of the Los Angeles Matadors of the newly formed World Series of Boxing League. There will also be an auction including boxing memorabilia donated by Lucia Rijker and Mia St. John.

Jill Morley, in a relatively short time, has accumulated a compilation of writing worth reading and a film, "Stripped," worth seeing. She's accomplished this, not from a plateau "above the fray," but literally and figuratively, from inside the stories she tells. Her forthcoming film on Women's boxing will be no exception. Morley will incorporate her own experiences inside the ropes while providing a competitor's knowledgeable insight into the experiences of female boxers both in and out of the ring.

If you're in Los Angeles, stop by the DAP Studios on December 17 and support a couple of good causes. If you're a fan of Women's boxing, keep an eye out for "Girl in the Ring" in 2011.

Bernie McCoy

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