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Friday, November 15, 2013
Publicist Swanson to enter the ring

By Dan Rafael

Kelly Swanson has been in boxing for more than 20 years as one of the sport's top publicists.

She has worked with numerous star fighters, beginning in her early 20s as the publicist for heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe.

Swanson has worked on major fights for promoters Top Rank and Don King and her company, Swanson Communications, currently handles Golden Boy events. She's the one who organizes and manages the cross country media tours for the big fights.

She's also the publicist for two of boxing's biggest names: pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins.

After all the fights she has worked on, Swanson knows her way around ringside. Now she is learning her way around the inside of the ring.

"After 20 years publicizing some of the top names in boxing and experiencing every aspect of those fighters' lives outside of the ring, I have decided it is time for me to see what it is like for them inside the ring too," Swanson said.

On Saturday night at famed Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Swanson moved earlier this year after decades in Washington, D.C., she will have her first amateur fight.

"I think I'm feeling like what it must be like to be the fighters and that's the part of my job I've never felt before," Swanson said. "I'm just focusing. Three weeks ago this was a fun idea and now I'm like, 'Oh my God, I have to fight Saturday night.' The reality is setting in. Everybody wants to win and this is a real fight."

Swanson is taking part in the Fight 4 Life Showcase, a charity event to benefit Gleason's Give a Kid a Dream Foundation, which was founded in 1991 and gives disadvantaged and at-risk youth the opportunity to work with a professional trainer, learn boxing and help themselves see their way to a better life. Swanson's junior middleweight bout against Amy Handlesman is the main event of the 16-bout amateur show. The women's bouts consist of three 90-second rounds.

Swanson initially went to Gleason;s in July just to exercise, never contemplating that her boxing workouts would ever involve an actual fight. Then about three weeks ago things changed.

"There were a couple of women in my class and I said to my trainer [undefeated pro junior featherweight Heather Hardy], 'Are they doing the charity fight?' I thought if they could, I could," Swanson said. "My competitive nature took over and then you get a chance to raise money for the kids. The minute I knew I was going to do this, my training intensified."

Swanson -- who has taken the ring nickname "The Communicator" -- is taking the fight very seriously. Hopkins will even be in her corner on fight night along with Hardy and her other Gleason's trainer, Devon Cormack.

On Thursday, Swanson, a brawling southpaw, sparred -- with a male fighter.

"I feel ready to fight. I really do," she said. "I actually sparred [Thursday] against a guy. They asked him to practice his defense and for me to practice my offense, so he wasn't necessarily throwing back but my trainers were very happy with my punches."

While Swanson's main goal is to help raise money for a worthy kids program, she wants to win -- by knockout.

"I want to stop this girl," Swanson said. "I'm going full force. I am not messing around. When the bell rings, I'm gonna be on it. There are gonna be a lot of people there. My mom is coming from Buffalo. This is serious."

To help Swanson's fundraising efforts for Give a Kid a Dream, go to