Southfield — One is the undisputed first lady of professional boxing. The other quietly cut her teeth in the amateur ranks at the Kronk Gym.
One is Chaldean. The other is Jewish.
But what Jackie Kallen of West Bloomfield and Connie Shamoun, who grew up in Southwest Detroit, have in common is they are mothers, and they are mothering to boxers even if they are not their their own children. They've joined together to provide a women's touch to the mostly macho world of boxing, which they vow will be more fair to fighters and more pleasing to the eye for fans who are hungry for competitive matches in Metro Detroit.
Their production company doesn't even have a name but they've got a date Friday night for their first card called "Showdown at Shenandoah" at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield.
"If you can come up with a name let us know," Kallen said inside a local Coney Island restaurant the two frequent.
The card features Dorell Van Horn Jr., Connie's son Zachariah Shamoun, Craig Lewis, Michael Portillo and female boxer Amanda Cooper. Kallen patterned the card after those in southern California and Las Vegas, where many fights are held in ballrooms.
Ticket prices begin at $40. Dinner is included with $100 VIP and $125 ringside seats.
The goal is to have an event every other month that starts on time and with the fighters getting paid. That might sound simple but it is not. Five local boxing events were canceled over the past four months, one during the weigh-in and one the day of the fight.
No one got paid and a credit card set up to pay for the fighters' hotel rooms was rejected.
Another objective is for fighters to not have to hustle their own tickets. Often local boxers sign blank contracts. They are paid based on a percentage of tickets sold. If a boxer does not know many people his purse can be as small as $1.
"We don't want any of that stuff," Kallen said. "We plan on doing it better than the men. We have that maternal thing going on. I am a grandmother. Connie has five kids. We have that nurturing side. We did not even start talking about this until we had the money in the bank."
The women are getting help from Big Al's Promotions and Dbouk Promotions but this is their show.
Kallen is better known. She did promotional work for Tommy Hearns during his rise as a welterweight and middleweight champion. She also moved into managing and promotions. Kallen is The First Lady of Boxing and had a movie made after her.
Shamoun helped head the amateur boxing program at Kronk along with trainer Sugar Hill. She often took boxers on trips, piled as many as 20 boxers to a room and helped feed them. Maybe she is the "First Mother of Detroit Boxing."
About 48 years ago Kallen had a miscarriage and she jokes that Shamoun is her lost child. They think alike, act alike, have similar instincts.
"Some of the men I have worked with have been difficult and less than honest," Kallen said. "Connie is like a mini-me. I ask her, 'Are you my kid?' She reminds me so much of me at her age. I had that love for the sport and that same nurturing of the fighters. It is something I wanted to do, not so much for the money but for the love of the sport and the satisfaction of getting kids off the street."
Shamoun and Kallen bumped into each other during bouts around the city. They studied each other and finally Shamoun called Kallen to see if there would be interest in forming a team.
"I mean, she is a legend," Shamoun said. "It is a dream come true to work with Jackie for God's sake. So many of these guys came to me and said let's do a show. I am not willing to put my reputation on the line but since the moment we started talking we both have the same goals, giving these kids a fair shot. I respected what she's done in the past with fighters."
Fight Night at Shenandoah
Card: Starts at 8:30 p.m. Friday (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), Shenandoah Country Club, 5600 Walnut Lake road, West Bloomfield
Tickets: $40 general admission. VIP tickets $100 and ringside $125. VIP and ringside tickets include dinner. Can be purchased at at Neptix.com