Kathy “Wild Cat” Collins was born on March 23,1971, at an Air Force base in
Maryland. Three months later, her father was discharged and her parents
moved to New York, where they lived until they divorced four years later.
Her mother remarried and they moved to Marietta, Georgia where Kathy grew
When Kathy turned 19, she went back to New York to visit her father that she
had not seen for fourteen years. She fell in love with New York and decided
to stay. She went to Suffolk County Community College where she paid her own
way through school. The school had one of the most successful nursing
schools in New York, and she attended for three years and maintained a 3.2
GPA. Her mother was a nurse, and that was what had motivated her. Kathy
believed that being a nurse was something she would enjoy doing and be good
Kathy was working full time going to school, and living on her own. It was
very hard and stressful to juggle both school and trying to live on her own.
Kathy had gained a lot of weight over the three years she had been going to
school. Her eating habits were not good, and being raised in the south on
fried foods with gravy did not help. She also was smoking an average of two
packs of cigarettes a day, and on the weekends she wouldn’t mind drinking.
Kathy was out of shape and about 100 lbs. overweight...wearing a size 26.
Kathy recalled on one occasion of going to a “Plus” store to shop and
getting the biggest pair of pants they had and barely getting them buttoned.
One morning Kathy woke up and just by rolling over to get out of bed, she
got out of breath. She then started to develop a smoker’s cough and her
heart started racing. As kathy recalls that time in her life, she says, “It
was awful.” Kathy decided right then and there that she needed to change her
By then, Kathy became dissatisfied with nursing, she told WBAN, "I didn't
like nursing, in fact, I really disliked it so I decided to take some time
off from school and figure out what I wanted to do about it. I didn't like
the way I looked so, I went on a diet and in a month lost 10lbs.
I was so excited I wasn't even exercising. I decided to start exercising. I
went to a big named chain of gyms where the had weights and a track and
aerobic classes. I went to a class there was nothing but pregnant women and
elderly men over 80 in the class. In about 15 minutes, I was blue lost
my breath entirely and started to slow down actually---- I quit."
" The leader of the class started to make fun of me and taunt me. I was so
embarrassed and humiliated. Not to mention mad as hell. I never went back.
I needed to find something else another form of exercise. I
thought maybe some organized sports like baseball, basketball, or
volleyball, something like that. I couldn't find anything. I was watching
T.V. and saw a drama show and the girl was undercover in a boxing gym
and they were killing her. It looked like a great work out and a great vice
like a release. I had to try it. I had always loved Rocky movies too. I waa
pumped to try it. Not so easy. I has to find a gym that offered it I had
never even seen a real boxing match except Rocky. I called
all the gyms on Long Island I sat down with a phone book started with A and
just called and called two hours worth of phone calls. Finally this girl
answers a phone and she knows of a place just for women. I'm like PERFECT!
I called up and went down that night, in May 1994. The Academy of Boxing for
Women was a small place kind of homey though and there we a few women in
there. I was suppose to meet a guy who owned the place called Frankie.
I found him, I almost passed out I thought he was so cute and nice. He
helped me, I was terrible. But, I loved it, I couldn't do it but I loved it,
and I loved him that quick. I could jump rope but I loved punching, I
had ok balance but no stamina. I had to quit smoking."
Kathy stopped smoking, trained three days a
week at the gym, and the whole time, Frankie would help her when she was
there. She again dropped another 20 pounds, and had progressed quickly out
of the “plus” clothes in a short time. One advantage Kathy had was she
“loved” to work out. She loved to hit the bag---and she really enjoyed
meeting new friends at the gym.
Kathy said that within the next month the
same things happened, she lost another 20 lbs. Her goal weight at the time
was 175 lbs, and she was there. Even though Kathy had her “school girl
crush” over Frankie, there came a point that her focus at that time was the
N.Y. state Golden Gloves. Frankie encouraged Kathy to participate.
Kathy said, "I was unsure at the time whether to do it. They told Kathy that
she would need to lose more weight if she wanted to fight, but that they
felt she would be good at it and to give it a chance."
In January of 1995, she went to her first fight. She was to fight a girl
from Russia by the name of Katya Bankowski. Kathy remembers sitting there
for a long time, feeling very nervous, and then her opponent never showed
up. Kathy was very disappointed. But, Two months later there was another
Golden Gloves tournament. The first in the history of New York, for women to
box, and she again entered the event to fight. She got her chance to fight
As Kathy said in her own words about that night, “Frankie was gonna work my
corner and our working relationship was good. I could really trust him and I
did. He had a lot of confidence in me. There was a lot of press around the
event and Frankie worked with that very well.”
The first fights of the night were the women’s bouts. Kathy said that she
had so many emotions about it and that she was nervous and excited at the
the same time. As she put it, “The bottom line I couldn't wait.”
Bankowski was having a documentary filmed about her, and her boxing
experiences that night. The crew was their that night to film her, along
with Newsday, (the largest newspaper in Long Island), and a television crew
from France. There were about 3,000 people there, mostly to see women fight
for the first time in the Gloves.
Kathy described her fight with Bankowski, “I just ran across the ring and
threw punches. In the second round, I was exhausted already but did the same
thing. The hhird round I couldn't breath, I got hit for the first time hard
with right punch in the mouth. It made me mad as hel,l and I started
punching back like crazy, no form just crazy.” Kathy won that fight. Kathy
reflects on the beginning of her boxing career and said that no one knew
what they were doing that year and that it was a learning process for all.
Kathy went on to win her next amateur fight, and was in the finals at
Madison Square Garden. The event was sold out, and with Kathy winning her
first two fights was already the only woman boxer that year that had three
fights. She was extremely nervous, and to make matters worse, she had gotten
a head gear off of a super-heavyweight, and it did not fit properly. When
she asked for another headgear, they told her that they didn’t have another
one. When Frankie voiced his concerns about the headgear, they were simply
told that the alternative would be to “forfeit.” Kathy was not about to do
something like that and made the best out of the situation. She wrote the
poorly fitted headgear---but ultimately paid the price of losing, when
during the match they had to break off the match for five minutes to tape
the headgear “literally” on Collins head!
Feeling a little discouraged after that experience, Kathy was close to
abandoning her boxing career and returning to school.
At that point, Frankie suggested to Kathy that she may want to go pro. Kathy
took a weekend to think about the pro’s and con’s of turning pro, and she
then decided that she loved boxing that much that she would make the
From this beginning, Kathy managed to lose a tremendous amount of weight,
and had a successful amateur boxing career, and professional boxing career,
earning four world title belts as a Junior Welterweight. A VERY