The world of professional boxing has survived innumerable odd occurrences -- fixed fights, severed ears, long counts, fake identities, and yes, even a handful of female managers.
The most famous (or, rather infamous) was "Leaping Lena" Levinsky, who managed and worked the corner for King Levinsky, a journeyman heavyweight in the 1930s, who lasted less than a round against Joe Louis.
A pioneer for her sex in the sport, Lena was far more fearsome than her brother, once blackening the eye of an Illinois boxing commissioner who denied her a license.
Kelly Swanson, the latest woman to grace the ring apron, has been far more sedate and wisely left the fighting to her protege, Jermaine Fields. The Maryland lightweight carries a 17-0 record with 14 knockouts into tonight's 10-round main event against Theon Holland of Washington at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.
Swanson, who got her introduction in boxing by serving as a publicist for former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, has done an impressive job of advancing Fields' career.
Swanson severed ties with America Presents, a Denver-based promotional firm which she sensed wasn't looking out for her fighter's best interests.
The boxing marriage between Fields and Swanson happened by chance. Before losing in the 1996 Olympic trials, Fields was shopping for a manager when he met Swanson at a Health Expo at the Washington Convention Center.
Recalled Swanson: "Jermaine was there with Sharmba Mitchell [current WBA junior welterweight champion]. I introduced myself and gave him my business card. But I wasn't really thinking of becoming his manager. I couldn't visualize myself making calls at 3 a.m. to try and make fights. That wasn't my field of expertise. I just wanted to help him out.
"At the time, he still had a shot at making the Olympics. I told him he didn't need to rush into turning pro or get tied up with a promoter or managers right away. If he won a spot in the Olympics, he could write his own ticket."
Fields, who had been besieged by aggressive boxing pitchmen, preferred Swanson's casual approach.
"From Day One, she was straight-up and honest," the fighter said. "With me, honesty goes a long way.
"She let me know she was inexperienced as a manager, but that she'd always be there for me. That's how it's been, and I wouldn't trade her for another manager, no matter how famous he might be."
Swanson's first managerial move was to hire trainer Eddie Futch, who had tutored Bowe. Futch, and assistant Dell Torrance, worked with Fields in his early fights in California and the Midwest before the breakup with America Presents.
"After a year, it seemed I had no say on who I would fight," said Fields, who turns 27 in November. "It became a conflict of interests, so we ended the contract."
Swanson brought Fields back east. He is now trained by Rock Simms and Scott Buchanan at the Laurel Boys Club. Blessed with a combination of speed and power, the left-handed Fields has had difficulty finding willing competition.
He is presently unranked by any of the leading sanctioning bodies, but representatives of both the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council have privately advised Swanson that could soon change.
Swanson refuses to rush him into a fight for the sake of a ranking.
"Boxing is a peculiar sport," she said. "One loss can really damage a career.
Fields is showing no signs of impatience.
"I just want to keep winning," he said. "The ratings will take care of themselves. I just follow Kelly's lead. She hasn't been wrong yet."
Who: Jermaine Fields (17-0), Landover, vs. Theon Holland (9-12), Washington, lightweights, 10 rounds
Where: Michael's Eighth Avenue, Glen Burnie
When: Tonight, first preliminary bout 7: 30
Promoter: Scott Wagner
Tickets: $40 (ringside), $30 (general admission)
Call: 410-766-7474 Pub Date: 9/30/99