Book tells life story of Denver heavyweight contender Ron Lyle

Off the Ropes book coverCandace Toft (MA ’74) wrote Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story (Scratching Shed Publishing, 2010) to shed light on Lyle’s extraordinary life. The major heavyweight contender from Denver is portrayed as a man defined not by his failures but by his triumphs in and out of the boxing ring.

Known as “the toughest heavyweight who never won the title,” a convicted murderer before his boxing career and later a humanitarian, Lyle was an icon during the era of the greatest heavyweights in boxing history.

Lyle was one of 19 children in his family growing up in the Denver projects. In his teens he was convicted of second-degree murder in a gang killing. He served seven-and-a-half years in the Colorado State Penitentiary, where he learned to box. He fought on the prison’s boxing team and started his amateur boxing career after being paroled in 1969. He turned professional in 1971 and established an impressive record as a pro boxer.

Lyle was accused of murder for a second time in 1978 and was acquitted of the charges. Toft details the years after his boxing career as a time of struggle, love and redemption. Today, Lyle runs the Cox/Lyle Community Youth Center in Denver. Off the Ropes is a compassionate story of his trials and triumphs.

Toft, a writer and former educator, lives in Susanville, Calif., with her husband. In 2000, her novel A Mingled Yarn won first runner-up in the San Diego Book Awards’ unpublished novel category. In 2004, Toft and co-author Gordon Ooley won first place in the same category for Emergence. In 2009 she was awarded a grant from the California Council for the Humanities to collect and publish local stories, which became Small Moments in Time: Memories of Lassen County.

Off the Ropes was launched at the International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction in Canastota, N.Y., in June 2010.

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