Boxing: Rosie Perez

Publicist Swanson wins via TKO1

November, 16, 2013
Some of her colleagues were chuckling post-fight, as the publicist to Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather was interviewed by the boxing writer, and being asked how she felt getting a win in her fighting debut.

But nobody was chuckling about Kelly Swanson's in-ring demeanor on Saturday night, at a jam-packed Gleason's Gym in DUMBO; the debuter, who strode to the ring in a blue robe with the words "The Communicator" stitched on the back, with cornerman Hopkins whispering encouragement and combat tips in her ear, showed a sharp left hand which made her foe Amy Handelsman do a 180 in the first round. Swanson quickly whacked Handelsman with combos, forcing a standing eight. The action resumed, but not for long. Swanson moved in for the kill, let her hands go, and the ref was forced to step in and halt the scrap. The end came at 53 seconds elapsed in round one.

The fight was the main event of a charity card, Fighters 4 Life Showcase, to raise money for at-risk youth, who can learn about fitness, and self-discipline and work towards positive goal-setting at Gleason's.

Afterwards, Swanson was barely breathing hard as she dissected her performance and the experience. Lisa Milner, Swanson's right hand for the past few years while helping promote Mayweather and Hopkins fights, was howling as she watched me query Swanson, who's done the same to the best in the business in her 20 plus years in the game. "The butterflies as you're getting ready, getting your hands wrapped, everything, are incredible," Swanson told me. "But once the bell rings you just get into it and fight."

Hopkins pre-fight told me that he'd told Swanson to keep it simple, don't try and get fancy. She complied, but with extra zest, firing with the same firmness and directness she often exhibits doing the publicity chores.

A celeb-studded crowd packed the joint, as Rosie Perez, and fighters Peter Quillin, Danny Jacobs, Yuri Foreman, Marcus Browne and Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza attended, to raise funds for the kids, and cheer on the publicist, who did indeed live up to the name "The Communicator:" Swanson communicated some serious intent with a thudding left hand, and even better, serious skills as a fundraiser: she raised $11,270 for the charity, tops among the 12 participants in the event.

Rosie Perez is HOF parade grand marshal

June, 8, 2013
The choice for grand marshal of this year's International Boxing Hall of Fame parade will draw some surprised stares from non-hardcore boxing fans.

But the boxing heads in Canastota, N.Y., to check out the Sunday parade, which kicks off at 1 p.m., will not be thrown off when they see Brooklyn-bred actress/activist Rosie Perez smiling and waving to those who have come to see fighters Arturo Gatti, Virgil Hill, referee Mills Lane and a host of other luminaries enshrined.

Perez is a constant Twitter presence, enthusiastically commenting on fights -- and not just the super fights, either. She follows the doings in the sweet science rather obsessively. The respect and admiration she shows for the game and its participants has won her new fans, who are appreciative of any positive voices that aren't inclined to critique the sport and point out its diminished place in the wide world of sports since the 1970s. Perez also attends fights, particularly in the New York area, when her work schedule permits.

"I'm the grand marshal," she told, when asked about her role in Canastota. "I'm very honored. I can't wait to meet all the boxers that I've watched and admired for so long."

Is she looking forward to shaking hands with any particular enshrinees or boldfaced names who are attending the 24th gala?

"I'm looking forward to meeting them all," she said.

Asked if any particular bout flipped a switch in her brain and rendered her addicted to the sport, she said, "I don't remember any particular fight. It was just a thing we did, we watched boxing."