Shropshire Star

Tony Jones brought Kellie Maloney back

Telford's Tony Jones just wouldn't stop nagging Kellie Maloney until she agreed to come back to boxing as a promoter.


The Shropshire fighter has got his wish with the resurrection of Miss Maloney in the sport she thought she was finished with forever,

writes Craig Birch.

The 61-year-old - of course, born Frank Maloney - completed gender reassignment this month, a decision that was met with widespread shock when announced last year.

In truth, Maloney was done with the fight game a year earlier, giving up a British Boxing Board of Control licence after becoming disillusioned.

Health was a factor no doubt, having been taken to hospital after watching big hope David Price get clobbered by Tony Thompson for the first time in February 2013, amid fears of more heart problems.

Most suspected Maloney was done with big-time boxing, with the aftermath of the collapse of a 15-year marriage to second wife Tracey something else to contend with.

Then came news he wanted to become a she. Undergoing a dramatic life change left no time for anything else, least of all the ring folk who claimed the whole thing was a ploy to make money.

But Jones still saw plenty in the guiding force that once led Lennox Lewis to the promised land as one of the biggest-drawing British heavyweights ever.

The 23-year-old light welterweight, who was looking for the best way into the paid code, managed to spark a fire again in the person who has made and lost millions, in equal measure.

She said: "I really had no intention of coming back to boxing, but this young man and his trainer kept sending me messages.

"They were telling me 'we have got a young fighter that wants to go into boxing and wants to be managed by you.'

"I kept saying no but, out of the blue, they turned up on my door step one Sunday morning. They came in, we sat and spoke.

"Eventually young Tony made me make the commitment to come back to boxing."

The press turn out for 'the Maloney factor' with Jones (right) enjoying the rub.

It won't be surroundings that Maloney has been used to when he presents his first bill as a new woman next month, north of the border.

The Bellahouston Leisure Centre bill will feature her only two charges - Jones and the undefeated Gary Cornish, who she was vowed to make Scotland's first British heavyweight champion.

She must see plenty in Jones, too, as he's been capitulated from obscurity as an amateur from Shropshire and into the public eye through the 'name' rub.

Maloney said: "If I put it in football terms, I've been the manager of Manchester United and now I'm going to take charge of Nuneaton Borough.

"I've got to start at the bottom again and there's no getting away from that. The support from the lower level of boxing has been fantastic. I was surprised, if I'm being honest. It was overwhelming.

"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. I've never been frightened to take on the establishment and I'm not frightened to do it again.

"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."

It's down to the hard graft in the gym for Jones as he does his bit, having learned his craft representing Shrewsbury and Telford & Wrekin since starting out.

He said: "I've had 35 fights over the last nine years, although I've not been very active over the last two or three. My style doesn't suit the amateurs as well as the pro game.

"I have been looking for the right opportunity to turn pro with the right manager and I think Kellie is the right person for the job.

"I have done a bit of research on the past, when Kellie was Frank, and she's never had loads of fighters that she manages at the same time.

"I like the fact that she takes a small group and treats them right, she's been successful in the past and I think she can be successful again.

"When she gave me the opportunity to sign for her, I grabbed it with both hands. I am happy about that."

Tony Jones in his amateur days at Telford & Wrekin Boxing Club.

He's signed a three-year contract and debutant, a second cousin of multiple world welterweight title challenger Colin Jones, reckons 'the Maloney factor' can lead him to national success.

Jones, who will be bringing his amateur trainer Brian Robb into the pro game with him, said: "Brian knows Kellie really well from when she was Frank.

"Me and a friend were pestering her for months to be my manager. It started on Twitter and Facebook Messenger at first. We sent her a video of my last fight, met up and it all sort of morphed from there.

"She told me he liked the look of me and sees a young up and coming fighter, who could do well with the right support and backing.

"She wants to prove the boxing world that she, once again, can turn a fighter from a nobody to a somebody. Maybe that is me.

"I have always believed I can win a British title and, with Kellie's help, it's certainly possible."

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