PICTURED: Alicia Doyle. Photo by Kathy Cruts
by Emily Dodi
In these surreal yet all-too-real times, we find ourselves sheltering in place at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be transported by a good book. Fighting Chance, a new non-fiction memoir by local author Alicia Doyle, takes us into the world of boxing as seen through Doyle’s own eyes. An award-winning journalist and a frequent contributor to the VC Reporter, Doyle was a competitive boxer, one of only a few hundred women in a male-dominated sport. She won two Golden Gloves championship titles and earned three wins by knockout. Her first professional boxing match was hailed as the California Female Fight of the Year in 2000.
“Fighting Chance offers an inside look at what’s considered the toughest sport known to man,” says Doyle. Readers can “see my thought process,” she explains, including dialogue she had with her cornerman and coach. Fighting Chance introduces us to unforgettable characters, including many of the amazing women Doyle fought against and some of the people who inspired her most, like Robert Ortiz, the owner of Kid Gloves Boxing Gym, and the renowned coach Stan Ward.
Doyle shows us that boxing is a metaphor for life. “Boxing helped me survive, which is a paradox because boxing is battle. Life can be a battle, but if you face it head on you can get through it. The only way out is through.” In the book, Doyle expresses how boxing taught her “important skills for life: focus, heart and dedication — and how to get up when knocked down. I never expected boxing to infuse my psyche emotionally, spiritually and mentally, and put me on a path toward enlightenment.”
You don’t have to be a boxing fan to enjoy the book. “It’s not just about boxing,” Doyle says. “You could hate boxing and still love the book. It’s about the journey.”
That journey is honestly and beautifully chronicled by Doyle, including her own “origin story” of being a child from a broken home. She shares her vulnerabilities and her triumphs, and her battles — in the ring and in life. From being a frightened little girl to a fierce boxer, she ultimately arrives at a place of forgiveness of herself and others. Doyle doesn’t shy away from the truth, but it took her two decades to tell it in a way that she felt could be helpful to others.
Writing the book, she explains, “was an incredible endeavor. I started 20 years ago when I retired [from boxing] but I didn’t have the insight and maturity. It was a matter of figuring stuff out. I needed the distance. There were many, many revisions. It had to come from a place of love and forgiveness of myself and for others. I wanted the book to be inspirational and empowering, especially in the times we are living in.”
During these days of “stay safe at home” orders, Doyle continues to be an inspiration.
“I had to adjust, because I NEED my workouts not only to remain in shape — but keep my depression and anxiety at a minimum. I had to do something (there was NO WAY I was going to remain sedentary during this time). I’ve been going on four- to five-mile treks around a park near my home in Ventura. I walk and run, do sprints, and run up and down inclines on this route. These treks range around an hour-and-a-half, so I’m still getting a great workout, and I’m using my body in ways that I haven’t used it in a LONG time.”
Wise advice from a woman who knows a lot about giving yourself a fighting chance.