The Sweet Science caught up with Kaliesha West ahead of yet another foray into the spotlight of national television. The boxer from Moreno Valley, California should be used to it by now. Not only has she participated in (and won) world title fights all over world, but she was also a contestant on Wayne Brady’s Let’s Make a DealTV game show just last May.
West recently took part in a brand new reality television show on the CW network called Capture. The first episode airs Tuesday, July 30 at 8 PM CST, and features twelve teams of two competing against each other in a high-tech wilderness compound (check out a preview clip here). The contestants live in primitive conditions for one month in a winner-take-all for a $250,000 grand prize. Each week, different teams are designated as the Hunters. The Hunter’s prey (i.e. the rest of the teams) live on limited rations and wear high-tech equipment that forces them to stay constantly on the move, making hunger and exhaustion even more intense. The Hunters track down the other teams and when they have two teams in captivity, the rest of the competitors vote on who stays and who goes home.
West said she relied on her experience as a world class boxer heavily all throughout the competition.
“The way I was raised as a fighter really helped me in this competition,” she said. “It really, really helped me.”
West told TSS all the injuries you’ll see on the TV show are real, and that the competition was as intense as she’s ever experienced.
“There were a lot of high intensity moments. There was a lot of pressure. Thank God I’d been a professional fighter for six years, and I have that experience to keep myself well balanced, poised and relaxed. If I hadn’t traveled the world and competed on big stages before, I don’t know what I would’ve done. I don’t know how I would’ve acted!”
West couldn’t say much about the show, but she did lay down the very basics.
“The competition lasted for a month. We were out in North California on a four thousand acre forest. We lived outside. We were given very, very little food. We slept on metal bunks outside, and it was freezing cold at night!”
The producers, West said, kept her and the other contestants on their toes at all times.
“The Game Master could basically change the game at any time. We could be in the middle of a hunt and he could just stop everything and do something crazy!”
West said her status as a world champion boxer helped her land the gig, but anyone who knows her would probably say it just helped get her foot in the door. West’s greatest attribute is her charisma, which is brought out best by bright lights and the camera. Still, West said she was thankful for the opportunity she knows boxing helped her take hold of.
“If I wasn’t a three-time, two-division champion, I know an opportunity like this would have never come about. Even though the state of women’s boxing isn’t as good as it is for men, opportunities for us still do knock.”
One has to wonder if this kind of exposure will help West land the kinds of lucrative American television dates she rightfully covets. While the fairer sex gets a fairer shake elsewhere in the world, American promoters and their broadcast partners have been reluctant to support women’s boxing in the United States.
TSS asked if she had any sort of marketing strategy heading into it.
“You know, when I went into the competition, I didn’t even consider that. I just wanted to do something different and challenge myself. I love competition. But throughout the competition, I realized that when this hits television, all of America will know who I am and where I came from.”
It certainly couldn’t hurt matters, right?
“I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was an experience of a lifetime.”
West said she competed on the show with her real life boyfriend of one and a half years, Matthew Rosado (pictured alongside West, above). She said the two learned a lot about each other through the process.
“It was interesting competing at such a high level with him.”
TSS asked how it all worked out. Did they get into any on air tiffs? Did they break up, get back together, break up and get back together again? What happened?
“You’ll have to tune into watch!” she said with a laugh.
Fight fans wondering where West has been since last October’s UD win over Christina Ruiz will be glad to know she’s back training again after a bit of a self-imposed layoff.
“After my last fight, I stepped away from boxing a bit. I went back to school and got some undergrad courses done. I have a long ways to go [in school] because I started late, but I’m back in the gym training again. My dad’s been working on a few things.”
Juan West is more than just Kaliesha’s dad. He not only trains his daughter, but he also serves as her manager and advisor. Team West, she says, is looking for something big this year and won’t settle for anything less.
“I’ve accomplished so much in boxing,” she said. “But right now, what’s paying my bills? Boxing isn’t. It’s unfortunate because I love boxing, but I’m really trying to take care of myself now. Boxing is fun for me but if it isn’t taking care of me, I have to step away and I don’t want to do that.”
West said she hopes Showtime’s rumored interest in women’s boxing is for real, and that she hopes she can be part of their plans.
“I know Showtime is talking about televising a fight with Ana Julaton. That’s the big rumor out there. And what would better than a fight against me? That’s what Showtime needs to see!”
Indeed, West and Julaton are two names US fight fans could really get behind.
“I guess you can say I’m going after the big dogs. That would be a good, good fight. I know Showtime is interested in Ana. If I have to come in and be the underdog, then so be it. At least I got my last opportunity in boxing.”
West said she has a couple of other fights cooking, too, but that she also wasn’t remaining stagnant outside the ring because of it. After working six years in the Emergency Ward of the Loma Linda Medical Center, West said she’s moving on to greener pastures. She told TSS she just finished a pilot for yet another TV show earlier this month with Stone Cold Steve Austin, and that she had other similar types of opportunities popping up, too.
And what of other opportunities inside of the ring?
“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I can as a fighter. The only thing missing is a televised fight on a major TV network in America.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV