Interview with Jaime Clampitt
originally published on the
Women's Boxing Page
February 15, 2001
gets together with the Calgary boxer
and her trainer John Rajala after her TV debut at Foxwoods ... Dee
Things are happening for Jaime Clampitt.
It's 3:30 p.m. on a frozen Tuesday afternoon in Calgary,
and I'm not her only interview for the day. Just four days removed from a wonderful television debut
and the phone is ringing non stop ... she might have lost the fight at Foxwoods, but you'd never know
it by the activity level here at home. When she scurries into the gym direct from work,
sports bag over one arm, she looks tired ... maybe just a little harried, but she's a professional.
All she knows is some suit from the financial district is here to interview her for a web site, but
I get the impression that if Jaime Clampitt makes an appointment with you, she keeps it. She moves
through the gym like it's her own private living room.
You can tell she lives and breathes this place.
John Rajala may not be a name with which you are familiar, but he is the trainer, manager and mentor of
Jaime Clampitt, not to mention the owner of the Inner City Boxing Club gym. You haven't seen this place
in a television show - nothing in Calgary is old enough to look like those nasty spit-bucket gyms on TV.
Rajala's imprint is on this place: it is no frills - a worrisome walk down a bare bones flight of stairs
leading into a single large work-out room, with a small office to the side. Unlike pulp fiction accounts
of boxing gyms, this place has no odor. The floor is spotless. The place is brightly lit, the ring properly
mounted and dominating the room. A thousand photographs and posters festoon the walls, including a few
glamour shots of Jaime that bring to mind early Bridget Riley. Rajala fits right in here - six feet plus,
clean shaven skull, and a closer's goatee. He puts me at ease within moments of arriving, but still: the
inner city gym is not about stock brokers. There are no silver spoons being offered to Jaime in this place.
Just when I think I have the guy figured out, I see a worn copy of "The Hobbit" on a book shelf. Cool.
What do I want you to know about Jaime Clampitt? Well, I hate to bring this up, but let's get it over
with - the girl is gorgeous. You know it's part of this game, I know it, and Jaime and John know it -
although so far they haven't really played that card from what I can tell. She wears her beauty as
casually as the pullover sweaters, khakis and sock feet she does the interview in. Like her talent -
it's just there - natural. She's reserved at the start - friendly of course, but on her best behavior.
I get the sense that if I weren't around, these kids would be clowning around, swearing, taking good
natured shots at each other. And Jaime is young - her speech inflected with question marks, pauses,
'ums', 'likes' and so on. I think you should also know that boxing picked Jaime as much as the other
way around. People that don't understand the female involvement with this sport can learn something
from Jaime's attraction to it: she has no choice. A lot of people are scared to chase the things
that really pull at them - they wind up doing the safe things that can never really satisfy them,
but Jaime Clampitt has not even considered taking that route. For that, she has my sincere admiration.
But here's the thing - the essence of what I took away from the gym and my brief half hour with
Rajala and Clampitt. John, and probably the rest of these guys who make up the core group at
Inner City, would take a bullet for Jaime. She's used to large families, and she's got one here,
a gym full of foster brothers and sisters. You see that kind of thing live and in person, and it's
very, very impressive.
When you go down to the Inner City Boxing Club there are signs reminding you to remove your outside shoes.
It is in many respects, like visiting someone's home.
Kevin: Your CABA profile lists you as a student? Is that still the case
Jaime: Nope. I'm working at the 'Y' now.
Kevin: Full time? What do you do?
Jaime: I'm ... I teach boxing classes, and I work for the admin department.
Kevin: You've kind of got this Rijker thing going where even before you throw a punch,
people can see you're a legitimate athlete. Were you into gymnastics or diving or something
as a kid?
Jaime: Yep - I was a gymnast for eight years, and then I played on the provincial
rugby team in Saskatchewan - team captain...
Kevin: Saskatchewan kid, eh?
Jaime: Yep, that's where I grew up.
Kevin: Was that Regina for the most part or...
Jaime: Well, I grew up, um, in Lafleche, Saskatchewan until I was
we moved to Regina. But my roots are still in Lafleche, all my family. It's, um ... I pretty
much grew up on a farm.
Kevin: Big farm family?
Jaime: Oh yeah ... lots of cousins and uncles and aunts. Just one older sister in the
immediate family, but extended is big.
Kevin: So you started out in the Regina Boxing Club. How'd you hook up with John?
Jaime: My coach in Regina gave me John's number, before I moved here, and told
me John was the best coach in Calgary so...
Kevin: John's been the trainer since you moved to Calgary then?
Jaime: Yep. He's the man.
Kevin: In your amateur days you fought over 140 on occasion - you were 136 for this fight - is that pretty much where you want to be as a pro?
John: She can make 130.
Jaime: Yeah we fought at 130 once. I weighed in at 130 to fight
to fight Jamie Day.
John: She can make 130 for the right reasons.
Kevin: How'd the rounds feel? That was your first six rounder, right?
Jaime: Yep. Oh, I liked it. I wished it was longer!
Kevin: Looked like you were just hitting your stride in the sixth.
Jaime: Yeah, that's how I always am. I just like to ... I find female boxing is a lot more busier a lot of the time, than male boxing,
I guess ... I like to feel a person out a bit more. I enjoy going the rounds.
Kevin: How's the Calgary environment for training? Who do you spar with?
Jaime: I actually have quite a few sparring partners, um ... mostly amateurs. I'm sparring with one guy now who just turned pro.
He hasn't had a pro fight yet, but he had a pretty good amateur background. Um...I spar with Keith Shore - really a good amateur, he's come close to winning nationals. I spar with a girl, Michelle Collins
... she won a silver last year at the nationals and a bronze this year so she's pretty competitive. Once in a while if I'm feeling up to it, I'll spar with Chad
... if I feel like getting knocked around a bit! (Jaime chuckles. Chad, sitting across the room at a computer, smiles)
Kevin: Dee had written me wondering how you could have developed the way you have coming out of Saskatchewan, and I had to admit I didn't know exactly. Now it's pretty clear: you've got a lot of what you need right here in Calgary.
Jaime: I've always had really good sparring. The people I spar with are all really different.
Kevin: Any southpaw experience?
John: Jaime's got a knack, she doesn't have any problem at all with southpaws. Me, I'd rather she fought a southpaw than a regular
... I know she can work angles beautifully on a southpaw. But going back to what you said about the environment, one good thing about Calgary is the elevation. Training up here
... we go down to sea level for a fight and it's a big advantage.
Kevin: Foxwoods was your first pro fight away from Alberta. Is there a chance you can build a Paul Spadafora or Virgil Hill like fan base here in town, or are you going to have to be a road warrior a la Margaret Sidoroff or Kathy Williams?
Jaime: I think there's a chance. I think once people see it ... they just need to see that there are good female boxers out there. Today, it's been unbelievable all the phone calls I've been getting.
Kevin: A KO punch is a big equalizer for dealing with road decisions. Is that a part of your arsenal?
Jaime: Oh yeah. I think ... um ... probably my biggest thing is my movement, kind of my speed, but if it comes down to it
... I can fight if I have to.
Kevin: That's the impression I got ... versatility ... looks like you have options in there. What's your ring identity?
How would you describe your style?
Jaime: Um ... I think just because of the people I've worked with, I can do a lot of different things. I've used so many different styles,
it's difficult to say specifically what I am.
John: Well, I think she's a boxer. She's not a huge puncher...
Kevin: When she's gotten somebody out of there, what's it look like? Is it a big Christy Martin
wallop, or more of an accumulation?
Jaime: Accumulation, yeah.
John: But I think power comes from timing, timing comes from ring generalship, and that comes from time in the ring. The more experience she gets, the more comfortable she is, the more we'll start whacking people out.
Kevin: You mentioned you have a nutrition background. Is diet a big part of your regimen?
Jaime: Yeah, diet's really important ... um...mostly what I eat for this weight is chicken and vegetables (laughs) - a lot of protein. I tend to put on muscle pretty quickly. Not so many complex carbs.
Kevin: How many rounds do you spar in training?
Jaime: We'll go six or eight rounds.
Kevin: How many total rounds did you get in for Liz?
Jaime: I don't know (looks at John) we...
John: We trained about four weeks for this fight, not a whole lot of rounds.
Kevin: Four weeks?
John: Yeah, that's all she needs.
Kevin: Any weight training?
Jaime: Right after Christmas I just started strength training, before then I hadn't done a lot of it.
John: It's her body - we're concerned she'll build out of the weight division.
Kevin: Let's talk a bit about the fight. How'd you get on Friday Night Fights so fast?
John: You know, we just had an opportunity to jump in with a top five girl, get on TV, and accomplish some goals. We went down there to get exposure and we wanted to look good. I think we did that.
Kevin: How's the Foxwoods venue? They treat you well?
Jaime: Oh yeah. I felt really comfortable there. I didn't have to worry about anything once I got up there.
Kevin: You meet Teddy Atlas?
Jaime: (smiles) Yep - he gave me a T shirt (laughs). We didn't talk much, but yeah, he was really nice.
Kevin: John tells me you were nervous for the fight. You didn't look nervous. How'd you feel going in?
Jaime: Um ... I felt calm, you know, even leading up to the fight - day of the fight I was fine. I think I started getting nervous, maybe in the second round. It's very overwhelming if you're not used to it. I was telling John that
um ... in Canada, you know, like I'm really comfortable, I know everybody around
... it's like, I'm sure if Liz were to come here...
John: She wouldn't dare! (laughs all 'round)
Jaime: ...she'd be a little uncomfortable. It's pretty overwhelming.
Kevin: How'd you feel about the outcome?
Jaime: I don't think I won the fight. I think it could have been a draw.
I would have seen that. It was really close. I think if I had won the fight, I wouldn't have learned as much.
Kevin: That's a good point - what lessons did you take away from Foxwoods?
Jaime: First of all, just being away from Canada, being on TV, being in a big fight...
John: That was the big thing. She wasn't nervous about fighting Liz Mueller, even when Liz was standing there, giving her the look,
(does a Liz Mueller look) Jaime's like (does a Jaime Clampitt look). You know, it's pressure, learning to deal with pressure. That's all it is.
Jaime: Everybody back home, you know, cheering for me, counting on me
... it is pressure.
Kevin: What was your plan for the fight, and how much did you feel you deviated from it?
Jaime: I think that's part of the nerves ... usually I'm very good at following a fight plan,
you know, that's something I do. I didn't feel I was as focused as I normally do. First round I
was backing her up, you know, second round, third round I starting going off. By the sixth I
started working angles, that was part of the plan too ... back her up, work my angles. Half way
through the fight, we kind of changed the plan a bit ... you know, keep her at the end of my punches,
keep her away from me.
John: Our initial scouting report was that she was a counter puncher.
We couldn't get tape on her at all. Three or four solid sources told us she was a counter puncher...
Kevin: Not that night she wasn't! (laughs all 'round)
John: ... so we worked on being aggressive, cutting off
the ring and we get there and she's totally different.
We had to adjust. Even though it's imprinted that, yes, you
have a fight plan ... something happens, we have to be able
Kevin: Is counterpunching a strength of yours?
Jaime: I think so. Sometimes I think I focus on it a little too much though.
Kevin: You caught her a straight right hand in the first round that seemed to back her off.
Do you think you had her hurt?
Jaime: Oh yeah, I could see it in her face. Um ... I don't think
... I think they expected me to be an easy fight.
Kevin: You think so? You were a fairly well known amateur.
Jaime: I got that feeling. They didn't know anything about me.
John: That's just what we presume, you know, we don't know.
Kevin: Did she hurt you at all in the fight?
Kevin: Fourth round, (she) landed some pretty good right hands ... nothing?
Jaime: Nope. I've had harder sparring sessions.
John: Those marks on Jaime's face didn't come from punches. Jaime's got to learn that you
don't have headgear on anymore - you've gotta move your head one side to the other, you can't come straight in.
Kevin: Well, it's what ... four days after the fight ... and there's not a mark on you. Do you cut at all?
Jaime: Nope - just a few black eyes, that's pretty much it, in my whole career.
Kevin: It was a pretty sportsmanlike session though, right?
Jaime: Oh for sure. I had fun in there.
Kevin: Any plans for a rematch?
Jaime: I'd like to have a rematch, maybe wait until she wins a title, and then rematch for that.
John: Or we could win a title and give her a shot...
Kevin: Are you fighting at Foxwoods again any time soon?
John: We're talking about it. They have mentioned that they'd love to have her back.
Kevin: Longer term, who do you want in the ring?
Jaime: Um ... the last girl that Liz fought...
Kevin: Marischa Sjauw?
Jaime: Yeah - there's a great fight right there. You know, there's a lot of girls out there that'd be good.
Kevin: Any thought about taking a few developmental fights in between 'names'?
Jaime: I think so. I mean, just to have the chance to get used to some things, work on some things.
Kevin: That's one peculiar thing about the women's game: if you were a man, nobody would think twice about giving you 20 set
ups. But it seems like, if a woman takes a few developmental fights people are all over her. It seems like we're not as patient with female fighters.
John: Its supply and demand too. There's just not that deep a pool for the women, not like for the men.
Kevin: In terms of promotion: You've got a nice Casino friendly style, you've got a look,
but you're basically unpackaged. It's "I'm a real fighter, what you see is what you
get". Is that going to be the approach, or are you planning to float down to the ring on a flying carpet any time soon.
Jaime: (laughing) No!
John: We're working on some things ... storm effects, sort of thunder and lightning stuff.
Kevin: But basically, you're emphasizing substance, right?
Jaime: Yep, for me, that's the biggest thing. Especially for this fight
... just to show that there are good female boxers. Representing the sport well, that's huge for me.
Kevin: Dee likes to ask fighters if they could change one thing about women's boxing, what would it be?
Jaime: I'd have to say the daughters (laughs)...yep. It upsets me, just because I've put in a lot of years, I've put in a lot of time in the gym, and they're getting like
five times as much money, they're getting five times the exposure. It's like Liz said, being a chemist's daughter doesn't make you a chemist.
Kevin: Yeah, that was a great quote.
John: The thing is, Jaime loves boxing. She's not in it for the money, she's in it for the fight. Total intrinsic motivation. She doesn't have this "I want to be a millionaire" mentality - maybe she will be someday, who knows? But it's not the main thing.
Jaime: I think that another thing is um ... I love performing, I love being in front of the crowd.
I have so much fun there - it's a lot of hard work, but once I get in there... it's really the only thing I want to do.
Kevin: Are you a fan of boxing, do you watch Friday Night Fights, catch the odd PPV etc?
Jaime: Oh yeah.
Kevin: Who are some of your faves?
Jaime: Um, I like Fernando Vargas. Morales. Obviously, Muhammad Ali.
Kevin: Not a fan of Hamed?
Jaime: (laughs) Yeah, no, I love Hamed!
Kevin: What are you going to do, John, when she wants to start throwing lead uppercuts from her ankles?
John: If she can land it - not a thing!
Jaime: Thing with Hamed is, I mean ... he's just, he can get away with it. He's just amazing, like I think I just respect him as an athlete, like maybe I'm not so fond of his attitude, or some of that stuff, but to watch the guy, he's interesting, he's different...
John: Barerra'll knock him out.
Kevin: Yeah, who wins that fight?
Jaime: I don't know. It's...I mean, Barerra/Morales, when they fought it was unbelievable, and he (Marco) got robbed I think.
Kevin: You ever look to emulate guys you see on TV? Maybe borrow a move or technique?
John: Something we're always stressing here, is that we're all individuals. Emulating someone who's the best at what they
do ... you've got to think about that, but at the same time, if it's not you, it's not going to work. Maybe a move or look, but to completely adopt a style wouldn't work.
Kevin: When did you know, "I've got it in me to be a world class fighter"?
Jaime: I don't know ... that's ... um...
John: Friday! (laughs all 'round)...
Jaime: I don't know, the first time I ever saw Christy Martin - it was on the first Tyson/Holyfield fight - that was the first time I'd ever seen any female professional fighter. After seeing that, I was like - I knew that's what I wanted to do.
Kevin: Doing it, and turning pro, are two different things. How are you handling the transition from the structured, more or less rational amateur world, to the pros where every fight is a separate business deal?
Jaime: Yeah. I enjoy the pros a lot more. I like the fight a lot better. I can be more creative, you know, with my boxing style. The fact that we don't have to wear headgear
(laughs) that's a big ... I'm a lot more comfortable. I love getting in front of people.
I mean, the biggest amateur tournament is nationals and there's like, five
hundred people there. In the pros, everyone's pumped, people are really into it, they want to see you fight, they've paid a lot of money to see you fight. People want to see a good fight.
That gets me more excited to fight.
Kevin: What's been your best ring moment so far?
Jaime: Best ring moment ... um ... I'd have to say Friday. Yeah. I know I lost the fight, but I fought for
it. I tried as hard as I could. I'm happy with what I did.
Kevin: I think when Max and Teddy say "this girl can fight" on national TV, that's all right. That's just fine.
Jaime: Yes. (Nods) Yeah.
Inner City Boxing Club is at 435 10 St N.E. in Calgary, and their telephone number is (403)-269-4652 ... Dee
© Kevin Cockle
Other Jaime Clampitt links
Page last updated: Saturday, April 24, 2004