The Ron Lyle Story by Candace Toft - Book Project (updated Jan. 27th, 2009)

The Ron Lyle Story by Candace Toft - Book Project (updated Jan. 27th, 2009)

Author: Candace Toft

Subject: Ron Lyle

Title: Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story

I have completed the biography of Ron, and am currently working on the outline for a screenplay. I am looking specifically for a copy of the 60 Minutes profile of Ron Lyle conducted by Mike Wallace and broadcast in 1971, but am also interested in any photos, handbills and programs which could be used in the publication of the book.

(Amendment to listing added January 27th, 2010 - The book will be launched on June 10 in Canastota at the International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction weekend.)

(Amendment to listing added October 30th, 2009 - At long last, we have a publisher for Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story. It is scheduled to be released in 2010 by Scratching Shed Publishing, a British House located in Northern England. Both Ron and I are very happy that International Boxing Hall of Fame sportswriter Bert Sugar will be writing the foreword. I am no longer working on a screenplay, as we have a filmmaker working with the publishers, but I am still interested in photos, particularly of fights, which we could use with permission in the book.)

Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story


Heavyweight boxer Ron Lyle grew up in the Denver projects; fifty years later, he runs a youth boxing program in the same neighborhood. But during the intervening years, extraordinary events unfolded in the life of this remarkable man.

From an innocent childhood in a religious family of 19 children, through juvenile offences to his 1961 conviction of second degree murder, Ron Lyle demonstrated the fierce loyalty to family and friends that would always be a part of him.

He served eight years of his 15-25 year sentence at the maximum security state penitentiary, during which time he was stabbed by a fellow inmate and almost died on the operating table. But he also learned to box, and under the tutelage of a skilled and caring prison guard, he began to dream of being the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Lyle was paroled in 1969 and, in a six-month meteoric amateur career under the management of a wealthy and influential Denver businessman, he was named North American Heavyweight Champion – an achievement that prompted Mike Wallace to do a 60 Minutes feature story on the eve of his professional debut.

Over the next six years, Lyle established an outstanding record in the ring, and shortly after he was granted a full pardon by the Governor, he became third-ranked heavyweight contender.

At the height of the golden era of heavyweight boxing, he fought Muhammad Ali in a championship bout and was ahead on points when Ali was declared the winner in a controversial 11th round TKO. A few months later, he knocked Ernie Shavers out cold, and in 1977, he went to war with George Foreman in what most boxing enthusiasts call “The One for the Ages.” At age 36, Ron Lyle was at his peak.

And then he was indicted for murder a second time. Although he was ultimately acquitted by a jury that met for only one day, his boxing career was effectively over. But even that event did not capture the essence of the Ron Lyle story.

In scenes throughout the book, the interplay among Lyle’s exceptional self-discipline, his capacity for forgiveness and his sometimes reckless behavior is demonstrated, not only in his professional career, but in all aspects of his life. The reader learns of his joy at being a father, his devotion to young people, his enduring friendships and his stormy relationships with women.

It wasn’t until after his boxing career ended that Ron suffered the worst loss of his life. His two youngest children, for whom he had been caring as a single parent, were taken away by social services, because of his criminal background and because he had never been married to their mother.

Decades of struggle followed as he migrated between Denver and Las Vegas, sometimes experiencing joy, as when he lived with the woman he called “the center of my soul,” and sometimes despair, as he searched for a meaning in his life that could replace his dream of being the heavyweight champion. But gradually, with friends and family standing by him, and after being honored by an invitation to the Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony, Ron began to know that his place in life was right where it had always been, devoting his life to young people in the old neighborhood. And finally, his own children came back to him.

Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story not only provides the reader a glimpse into the mysterious world of professional boxing, it is the compelling personal narrative of a singular man.

Off the Ropes: the Ron Lyle Story by Candace Toft - Click here to order on

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