Jackie Daley grew up in an athletic family from Delaware County. She played hoops at Haverford High School which earned her a basketball scholarship to Kutztown University. She was the goalie for the Mairead Farrell’s Senior Ladies Gaelic Football Club.
But none of that really prepared Daley for the boxing ring she’s about to enter on April 27. That job has fallen to her uncle, Richard Sand, an ex-boxer. Daley is one of 24 amateur fighters on the card for Fight Night II, the fundraiser for the Young Ireland’s Gaelic Football Club, which is being held at the Irish Center in Philadelphia.
When the center’s ballroom is magically transformed into something resembling Madison Square Garden for the second year in a row (you can see that happen in this time lapse video by Eileen McElroy), Daley will be squaring off against Jess “The Hurricane” Carbin. Daley doesn’t know her. “She’s one of the Irish guys’ fiancés and I hear she’s feisty and competitive out of her mind, so it will be a good fight,” said Daley, 28, a fast-talking, one-liner machine and radiologic technologist who will be boxing under the name Jackie “The Hammer” Daley.
It will be Daley’s first fight. Ever. Hard to believe, but she never even threw an elbow in hoops or clothes-lined a footballer. “I mean, I never hit another person in my life,” she says. “I’m six feet tall, so people tend to not mess with me. I’ve never had the opportunity till now. I mean, if it was about jump shots I’d be all over it. Hook shots, not so much.”
Fight Night is the result of some out-of-the-box thinking about fundraising, says Trish Coyle Daly (no relation), who does publicity for the 28-year-old football club. “We did the usual beef-and-beers for years and we wanted to do something different,” says Daly, who has strong family connections to the YIs: Her brother, Luke, plays; her dad, Luke, was a manager; and she met her husband, Anthony, when he came from Ireland one summer to play football for the club.
Though last year’s novice event was successful, Daly says she expects this one to blow the roof off. “The hype for this year is out of control,” she says. “A lot of people didn’t go last year because they weren’t sure what kind of night it would be. People weren’t sure whether there was going to be fighting amongst the crowd and it would turn into a rowdy night. But it was a great evening, pure entertainment. People weren’t even getting up for food or to go to the bathroom. They didn’t move from their seats.”
(There were plenty of laughs, as you can see from our photo essay by Eileen McElroy.)
Many of the boxers are training at Andy Carr’s Gym in Upper Darby. Because she travels around the country for work, Jackie Daley turned to her uncle for pointers. “If nothing else, it’s a reason to get my butt back in shape,” she laughs.
She may not have all the moves down, says Daley, but she’s definitely bringing game. “I kinda like see red when I’m in the game zone,” she explains. “I’m kinda unstoppable in my own opinion. Right now I’m having a blast, but the second I get in the ring it’s all over.”
She lets that sink in before she bursts into laughter. “I mean, look,” she says. “I’m not trying to break my nose. My face is too pretty for that!”
Tickets for Fight Night II are $40 each and won’t be sold at the door. Get more information on the event at the Young Irelands gfc Facebook page.
Here’s the evening’s lineup:
Kramer V. Jason Radden
Dan Cardell V. Mike Bohannon
Maryellen McCarry V. Abby Block
James Madden V. Pete Avon
Barry Quinn V. Pat Gray
Jess Carbin V. Jackie Daly
Owen Cummings V. Tom Coyle
Ryan Corbett V. Andrew Marinelli
Leslie Stevenson V. Darren McGee
Steven Covington V C.J. O’Brien
Joe Roan V. Jim McElhone
Eamon O’Hara V. Mark Fisher