Kellie Maloney returns to boxing after gender reassignment

By Ben DirsBBC Sport
Kellie Maloney thanks boxing grassroots support

Kellie Maloney is returning to boxing as a promoter, less than a year after announcing she was undergoing gender reassignment.

As Frank, Maloney was one of British boxing's most high-profile promoters and led Lennox Lewis to the world heavyweight crown.

And after unveiling two new charges in London on Thursday, Maloney thanked the boxing fraternity for its support.

"It's like starting all over but with 30 years of knowledge," Maloney said.

Speaking to BBC Sport, she added: "[Being Kellie] was something that was inside of me, something I had no control over.

"Some people in the same situation cut their lives short, because they can't handle it. I decided, with the support of my family, I would find the real me.

Gary Cornish on Kellie Maloney
"When I worked with Frank, he wanted to make me the first British heavyweight champion from Scotland. She's obviously got the hunger back and underneath it all she's still got the brain and all that knowledge. As long as she progresses my career, I'm happy. There will be a limelight on her for a while but I don't mind being in the background."

"And part of the real me is that I love boxing, so I wanted to give it another shot. It feels like I've been born again, like I've got a second chance in life."

The 61-year-old Maloney, who announced she was no longer Frank last August, said she was persuaded to return to the sport by Telford amateur Tony Jones, who knocked on her door and asked her to manage him.

Maloney will also co-promote Scottish heavyweight Gary Cornish, who is managed by Glasgow veteran Tommy Gilmour and worked with Maloney before her gender reassignment.

Jones will make his pro debut on a show in Glasgow on 23 May - joint promoted by Maloney and Gilmour - where Cornish will look to extend his unbeaten record in the paid ranks to 21 fights.

"The support from the lower level of boxing has been fantastic," said Maloney. "I was surprised, if I'm being honest. It was overwhelming.

Kellie Maloney
Maloney's last high-profile fighter was former Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price

"But the top of the hierarchy has been less supportive. I don't know if they're worried or what. Nothing has been said but you can just tell by the way they look at you or when you speak to them on the telephone.

"I've seen interviews where you could tell certain people wanted to make a comment but couldn't. You get very good at reading people's facial expressions. It does make me laugh, it's actually quite funny."

Maloney said that as well as being surprised at the level of support she has received, she is also "a better person and a nicer person" than Frank was.

"I'm a lot more understanding, have a lot more acceptance of people and situations," said Maloney, who only completed her sex change last month. "I'm not going to let my mouth go into gear before my brain.

"But I've never been frightened to take on the establishment and I'm not frightened to do it again. And I'd like to bring a bit of fun back to boxing.

"My goal is to produce a champion in the next 18 months and to enjoy boxing this time, instead of letting boxing wear me out and cause me health problems, like it did last time.

"And I'm hoping I can make people realise that this [transgenderism] is just a medical problem like any other medical problem.

"I'm hoping to show that we [those in the transgender community] are human beings like anyone else, not freaks, so please just show us respect and treat us the same way as you treat everyone else."