By Richard Thomas
Whiskey and the fight game don’t mix, unless of course you are talking about whiskey and boxing journalism! Like writers in general, enoying a good whiskey is a common feature among many in boxing media,* including Michelle Joy Phelps. Also a model and actress, Phelps is perhaps best known as the owner and moving force responsible for Behind the Gloves.
RT: In addition to being a whiskey gal, you are also a boxing reporter. How did you get into those two things, both of which are traditional guy interests?
MJP: I don’t think either have much to do with one another, but I just like both. I’m a straight whiskey gal. Always have been. There’s just something about whiskey that I love so much. Boxing has been in my blood, it was a family favorite sport that allowed us to have festive gatherings. So it felt pretty natural transitioning into the sport, although many people felt it was strange, seeing that I came from a modeling background. The moment I knew I was in the right place was when I stepped into the scene and was welcomed with open arms. Everyone has been so great and I think the boxing fans are ready for more women on the front end of the scene.
RT: Speaking of whiskey as something that has traditionally been a guy thing… let’s say you’re in a bar and you order a bourbon. Have you noticed that raising any eyebrows? Or attracting attention?
MJP: Oh my god, the funny thing is I get asked by the bartender often, “and what would you like?” as if I was ordering for someone else. It’s pretty funny. They’re always surprised when I tell them the whiskey was for me. I don’t find it odd that women drink it, many of my friends do. I guess we have fabulous taste.
RT: You said your favorites are Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack. What attracted you to that particular pair, a bourbon and a Tennessee whiskey respectively?
MJP: Woodford Reserve has a more classic flavor to it. Other whiskeys like to come out with new flavors such as honey jack, or fireball whiskey, but when it comes to something as classic as woodford, it can’t be comparable. You just leave perfection alone. As for gentleman jack, I can’t help but feel like a mature, working class woman when I drink it [laughs]. It’s the best “I’ve had a hard day” drink.
RT: Plenty of people like Jack and Coke, or to have their whiskey with a splash of water, but you have a taste for something different: whiskey with a splash of ginger ale. Not mostly Coke, nor a little water, but a little ginger ale. How did you arrive at that combination?
MJP: I’m not sure, I’ve been drinking it this way for forever. I love gingerale so it just seemed right. It’s either that or a splash of soda water with lime. I don’t like to mix much with whiskey, as it’s best on the rocks. It helps me maintain a slight buzz without getting drunk.
RT: Let’s say its the end of the day, you hit your favorite watering hole, and you tell the familiar barkeep “make mine a double!” What kind of a day has that been?
MJP: Oh that’s been a long ass day! Maybe even a stressful one. I don’t usually do doubles but if I do, lord knows it’s a day I need it. I would often have a small bottle at home and find myself getting a night-cap. It definitely helps with relaxing and unwinding.
* So common, in fact, that myself and staff writer Jake Emen are both boxing and whiskey writers.