Belfast Telegraph

How Northern Ireland boxer Cathy helped get promoter Kellie sorted for her return to the fight game in Belfast

Boxer Cathy McAleer with her new manager Kellie Maloney
Boxer Cathy McAleer with her new manager Kellie Maloney
Kellie at a press conference
Cathy and Kellie speaking to Belfast Telegraph’s Sarah Tulloch
Sarah Tulloch

By Sarah Tulloch

Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney has told of her worries about her appearance before making her return to the sport in Belfast this week.

Kellie - formerly known as Frank - is taking on the role of manager for Northern Ireland's only female professional boxer, Cathy McAleer.

The transgender star tried to return to the sport previously in the very early stages of her sex transition in a bid to keep her life as she had always known it. However, she wasn't comfortable and gave it up again.

She revealed it takes far longer to get ready for public appearances than ever before, with people taking a greater interest in how she dresses.

Ahead of a press conference at The Merchant Hotel on Tuesday, Kellie began to worry about her appearance as she struggled to style her own hair, but Cathy used her contacts in the Northern Ireland beauty industry to sort her out with a last minute blow dry.

"Cathy said, 'leave it to me', and got me the best hairdresser in Belfast who opened up especially early for me," she explained.

"Before, as Frank, I just put on a pair of jeans, a pair of shoes, a jacket and a shirt, but now you've got to groom yourself, especially because I've noticed that when people write about me, instead of writing about my achievements, they write about how I'm dressed and how I look."

The Peckham-born promoter, who shares pictures of her bold and statement outfits on social media, hailed her three daughters for helping her to find her new personal style.

She added: "One time we were doing a TV documentary and my daughters said, 'we are not going out with you if you're wearing that'. So I changed.

"Then they were like, 'where do you think you're going? You're like nanny getting ready to go to church'.

"Since then they've removed a lot of stuff from my wardrobe and replaced it.

"I bought a bright yellow jacket the other day in the sales and my daughter said, 'that is a little bit over the top'. I told her it was very cheap in the sale and she went, 'because you're the only idiot who would buy it!'"

Following a suicide attempt last year, Kellie said she is feeling much better and that her new management role has given her a sense of purpose.

"I had a lapse. I'm not going to lie, I do have a black cloud and I think we all have that mental health issue," she added.

"Probably mine is a little bit bigger than most because of what I've been through but with the help of my family, what I do, I've turned my life around and I don't think that will happen again.

"I do have a counsellor that's on speed dial."

Kellie said it was especially exciting to be kick-starting a new chapter of her life in Belfast, as she loves the boxing fanbase here, saying they always "get behind their athletes".

"I think Cathy can become the darling of boxing for Belfast," she said. "Belfast has always appreciated its superstars and it's a nation that loves boxing because it's a small community. The crowd has always turned out for them so for a woman boxer to bring a title back to Belfast, she will become a national hero."

Although there are more and more women getting into boxing, Cathy (41) said we're "still a long way off" but hopes she can change that.

She said: "I think people's perception of female sport is changing big time. If I can do it, hopefully younger girls coming through will aspire to do the same and see it can be done and it is for women too."

When she is not in the ring, Cathy runs her own businesses, MAC FIT, where she offers personal training as well as massage and facials, while also juggling teaching karate. Cathy, who is single, said she doesn't think her achievements would have been possible if she had children.

"The commitment to training twice a day and the travel... your head is totally focused on the sport. It's your dream, you give it everything. You have to be selfish," she added.

"It's always been my passion - why should I stop? Since I was eight I've done martial arts and my dream was to be a professional boxer."

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