Born on January 31, 1971, Michele “Pitbull” Cooley was raised in Meriden,
Connecticut. She began her athletic career as a gymnast during elementary
school, and then played soccer, basketball, and softball at Orville H. Platt
High School. She was an All-State catcher in girls' softball with the
distinction of being the only left-handed catcher to receive this honor.
Cooley was recruited by several universities for her abilities in softball
but decided to attend Princeton University without the help of an athletic
scholarship. At Princeton she found her athletic niche on the rugby field
and was named First Team All-American in 1991 before graduating with a BA in
Psychology in 1993.
Cooley began boxing in the fall of 1999 at the age of 28 after retiring from
the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Team earlier that year. She boxed as an
amateur in 2001 compiling a 2-0-0 record and turned pro in 2002 when she was
presented with the opportunity of making her debut at the First Union
Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA. Cooley made her pro debut on 10/11/2002
against Phillisha Darby to whom she lost by 4-round unanimous decision.
While she had hoped to secure a rematch with Darby, Cooley suffered a knee
injury during training which forced her into retirement in December 2002.
Although Cooley no longer participates in competitive sports, she keeps in
shape with daily gym workouts and an active lifestyle which includes
landscaping and home improvement activities. Although she was never able to
realize her goal of becoming a solid fighter and winning a title belt,
Cooley is content to move on and focus on her career as a Project Manager in
the pharmaceutical industry.