Kelly Swanson's clients include two of the greatest pugilists of the modern era: Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins.
Mayweather and Hopkins are immune, by now, to the butterflies that are making themselves so abundantly apparent in Swanson's stomach on Wednesday afternoon. The publicist confessed that her adrenal glands have been kicking into overdrive as we met for a chat at a Brooklyn eatery. No, not because Mayweather has announced his next scrap, or Hopkins has agreed to face off with another young gun, twenty years his junior. Rather, Swanson confessed to being in this state because she signed on to take part in a fight and will be gloving up on Saturday night in the main event for a charity event unfolding at Gleason's Gym in DUMBO.
We met for a bite at Nature's Grill. The publicist grinned, doing a good job camouflaging any hint of nerves.
"I decided on my walkout music," she told me.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Not telling you," she said, with the same directness I've become accustomed to in the last few years as I've interacted with her more at Barclays Center, where Swanson does work for promoter Golden Boy.
"Give me a hint," I said.
"It's hip," she says.
I know better than to push it. Swanson's manner in dealing with boxing media is as it needs to be when fending off countless folks who set up a website on GoDaddy.com which draws fewer hits than the Obamacare sites, then demand press passes. She is, she admits to me, "no nonsense" when in her work guise. "When it comes to boxing, yes," she says.
I move on.
We order healthy -- me being extra mindful of steering clear of bad carbs in solidarity with her Saturday bout. I go for the sweet potato fries and hear more about the Gleason's "Give A Kid A Dream" program. Swanson will fight three rounds, 90 seconds per round, to raise money for the program which provides mentors to disadvantaged area youths through the sport of boxing. Kids -- who are referred by parents, courts, churches or schools -- receive instruction in the sport and usually find themselves growing mentally and emotionally as they focus on worthy goals. Those interested can go to her page to offer a donation.
Back in July, Swanson said, she started working out at Gleason's and she wasn't thinking of doing much beyond getting more fit and perfecting a left hook. But her trainer, Heather Hardy, a local pro, told her she could absolutely compete with the women who were getting ready for the event, which runs twice a year at the venerable fight factory. She didn't bother to ponder all that long or hard when offered the chance, she said. But as the event, which kicks off at 6 p.m., drew closer and morphed from a far-off destination to a looming hurdle, her nerves occasionally kicked up.
"I work with two of the best fighters ever," she said, indicating she wants to impress the two all-time greats. "I mean, I can't lose!"
Check back for Part 2 on Swanson's foray into the squared circle, and find out what one technique she's decided to swipe from her clients, which she said could prove debilitating to her foe on Saturday.
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