Don’t mess with Kay West
Take a close look at these two photographs of Kaliesha “Kay” West. We’ll refer to her as Kay for the duration of this experiment, but you can call her Kaliesha if you prefer. Either way we need your help to solve a mystery involving Ms. West.
Start with the picture on top. It depicts Kay West at the front entrance to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where she works as a host in the hospitality services department. In this picture—the horizontal composition—she seems polite, helpful, and friendly. If you get the idea she’d be happy to help you from your car or get a wheelchair for you, it’s because that’s who Kay is and what she does. She’s nice and she likes to help people.
Now examine the photo on the bottom—the vertical composition. It’s Kay again and she’s still smiling, but pay close attention to her posture. Does she somehow look a bit more powerful to you? Maybe even a little bit menacing or edgy? As in the first photo, this one depicts Kay at her workstation and describes who she is and what she does. But it seems to suggest she might be something of a force to be reckoned with—perhaps a person with whom one ought not to mess!
Let’s push the envelope a bit farther. Consider two more questions, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Based on the evidence presented in the second photo, might you be willing to infer that perhaps Kay West might be the kind of person who is capable of knock
ing the stuffing out of people who stand in her way? Can you allege—solely on the basis of the visual evidence presented—that perhaps there is more than one side to Ms. West?
Just who is Kay West, anyway? Is she outgoing, friendly, and gregarious, as the first photo implies, or feisty as the dickens, as the second might suggest?
Before you answer, allow us to put forth two additional scenarios for your consideration: According to her colleagues at the Medical Center, Kay is optimistic, kind, and fun to work with. But ask a certain woman from Mexico—who claims she recently ran afoul of Kay down in Ensenada—and you’re likely to hear that Ms. West can be brutal, unpredictable, and aggressive to the point of violence.
The woman making the allegations is Verdogo Flores. Ms. Flores paints an entirely different picture of Ms. West than her co-workers do. She goes so far as to claim that Kay West fractured her jaw during their brief encounter last March.
So we ask you, ladies and gentlemen, which of these contradictory and seemingly mutually exclusive descriptions of Ms. West are you inclined to accept: the one which describes her as all sweetness and light, or the other image which portrays her with the fangs of ferocity? The decision rests in your hands.
Enough suspense! Let us just state, here and now, that there are two distinct sides to Kay West: She’s every bit as warm and wonderful as her co-workers report, but she’s just as fierce and pugilistic as Ms. Flores alleges.
The confusion vanishes when you learn that both Kay West and Verdogo Flores are professional fighters and that the breaking of Ms. Flores’s jaw took place on March 29, 2008, when the two women squared off inside Gymnasio Tigre Garcia in Ensenada, Mexico, for a boxing match.
So despite the pleasantness, cordiality, and—dare we say it?—sweetness of her demeanor at the Medical Center, Kay West is also a substantial competitor once she leaves her curbside workstation and steps into the ring.
How ferocious is she? According to the International Boxing Federation, friendly, helpful Ms. West is the eighth-ranked female bantamweight fighter in the world. And that, ladies and gents, is what you call ferocious!
In defeating Verdogo Flores, Kay not only advanced her professional fighting career to a perfect 8-0 record, she also moved one step closer to realizing a dream she and her father both share—that of Kay taking the World Title in women’s boxing.
Ironically, that hasn’t always been Juan West’s ambition for his daughter. In fact, for the longest time, the former professional fighter-turned-boxing coach didn’t want his little girl to fight at all. Boxing was Juan’s dream for his son Marco. But Marco liked golf, not fighting, and Kay, it would seem, had plans of her own.
“We have videos of my father boxing when I was 4 or 5 years old,” she explains. “In the background, you can hear me yelling, ‘Come on, Dad! Hit him! Hit him! Hit him!’ I’ve always been interested in fighting.”
Even so, had you asked Kay, when she was 4 or 5, what she wanted to be when she grew up, she wouldn’t have said boxing. “I wanted to be a police officer,” she remembers.
But Kay paid close attention when her father—who billed himself as Juan “Wild, Wild” West—retired to become a professional boxing trainer. “He coached fighters in our garage,” she recalls. “I loved watching him train.”
Kay admits she was a tomboy. “I grew up with my brother,” she says. “I would play outside with his friends all day. We would catch bees, wasps, and spiders and put them in jars and watch them fight. The black widows usually won.”
The other thing Kay loved to do was riding bikes with the boys to a neighborhood store. “We each had a dollar or two to spend, and we’d all buy candy. I was always treated a little bit differently. I had to do a little bit extra to be considered one of the boys.”
By the time she turned 10, Kay was ready to get serious about fighting. “I asked Dad to train me to fight,” she remembers. “He didn’t want to.” Nevertheless, she persisted, and Juan finally relented.
“He started letting me go to the gym and do regular exercises, calisthenics,” she says. “After three months of that, I started shadow boxing for him in front of the TV while he was relaxing at home. He would sit there calling out combinations, and I’d run through them until I mastered each one. He didn’t really take it seriously; he always thought I’d eventually decide I really didn’t want to do this. But I’m really persistent. I don’t like losing, quitting, or failing in anything. If I do something, I always want to do my best at everything I do.”
Perhaps her persistence explains Kay’s 8-0 record as a professional fighter. At the tender age of 20, she already has eight years of amateur boxing under her belt and has been fighting professionally the last two years.
Her father may be amazed, but Kay “Wild, Wild” West isn’t. It’s part of the plan. She aims to win the World Title in honor of the man who taught her everything she knows, and whose nickname she adopted as her own.
Kay may be one of the nicest people in the country, but she’s also one of the toughest competitors on the planet. Next time you see her at the Medical Center front entrance, say hello to Kay West. But whatever you do, don’t mess with her!
Ms. West is perfectly capable of knocking the stuffing out of you!
By James Ponder