Banker By Day, Boxer By Night: Chicago Woman Defends Her Title Saturday

Lisa Fielding
October 08, 2019 - 1:44 pm

Lisa Fielding/ WBBM Newsradio

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) --  Jessica McCaskill hasn't gotten much sleep these days.

"I probably get up at 3:30 in the morning, to the gym by 4:45 a.m. to do our strength and conditioning, that gives me just enough time to be at my desk by 6 a.m.," McCaskill said.

 When she's not working her full time job as a financial analyst, she's inside the Body Shot Boxing Club in Pilsen training at least 20 hours a week.

"We work out Sunday to Sunday. We're working out morning, afternoon and night. There's no days off. That's a lot of hours," she said, shaking her head. 

Lisa Fielding/ WBBM

McCaskill grew up in the southwestern Illinois town of Belleville and attended Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She studied communications and advertising and landed a job in Chicago in the financial world.

"I was always a tomboy and an athlete. I started boxing after someone gave me a gift certificate for a kick boxing class. I was in my mid-20s. This was just another thing I could get into. Once I saw the competition level, I was hooked," she said.

McCaskill has been boxing as an amateur for years, but went pro in 2015.

"My first professional actual fight, I was amped up. I had been fighting or a number of years. I was traveling. This was the natural next step," she said, adding with a smile. "My first fight, I remember the smoke and the music and the lights. It was a first or second round knockout. It was the best first match you could have." 

The boxing community is a unique one. She said it's a bit of a hidden industry.

"If you didn't know about boxing in your area, but being in the community, it's everywhere. There's a gym on every third block. We're trying to come together for youth boxing, building tournaments and getting the word out."

As for women in the sport, she said the interest is growing.

"I feel like the sport is coming back. It kinda died out in the 80s but it's on the rise again for sure. It came back once the Olympics welcomed female boxing into the games. The number of girls that you are seeing entering in the Olympics is growing," she said. 

The difference between men and women in the ring is only slight.

"We fight for 10 rounds, men do 12. We have lighter equipment because of our physique but there's not much difference," McCaskill said. 

After her first few fights, her friend gave her a nickname and it's stuck.

"They call me CasKilla. I see it as McCaskill and Godzilla formed together and made this beast of a creature and that's me," she laughed. "People yell out it, scream it out when I'm in the ring. it's fun."

Body Shot Boxing Club

And she said boxing enthusiasts are a unique fan base.

"Females tend to go all in and be more exciting. People seem to prefer female matches. The fans are excitable. They love to watch me fight. They know I'm going to put it out there. They are very loyal too," McCaskill said. 

When she looks back at her professional career, she said it doesn't surprise her where the path led.

"The people around me, like my mom, she's not surprised at all. I grew up with three boys," she said.

But she said boxing has become more than just a sport for her.

"It's more than just a hobby, it's a lifestyle. I want to use my platform to help others and help young people," she said.

McCaskill is 7-2 with three knockouts.  She will defend her World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council World Super-Lightweight titles against old foe Erica Farias at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago on Saturday. 

 "I'm excited to fight in front of my hometown. My whole family is coming up," she said. 

Body Shot Boxing Club