Interview with Lucas Ketelle, Author of Inside the Ropes of Boxing: A Boxer’s Guide to the Sport
Caryn A. Tate on January 16, 2023
Ketelle’s writing has a friendly, thought-provoking tone rather than a self-important one.
Most of the books that exist about boxing are biographies. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, particularly since the sport sees more than its share of inspiring individuals. But with the release of his first book, Inside the Ropes of Boxing: A Boxer’s Guide to the Sport, author Lucas Ketelle has done something rare in boxing: he’s created a book that’s targeted at young, aspirational boxers themselves.
“I wrote what I deemed to be true,” Ketelle told me when we spoke recently. “I wrote basically my mission statement for boxing. This is what I see. That’s also the point of me putting questions at the end of the chapters.”
Ketelle is editor-in-chief of ITRboxing.com and has covered boxing for many years—both in local boxing gyms and from ringside on fight night—and performed as a ringside commentator. Based in California, Ketelle has followed local boxers who typically don’t get nearly as much media attention as their world-level counterparts who are boxing on television. In his media coverage, it’s always been apparent that Ketelle likes and respects fighters.
“It was the fighters I hung out with,” Ketelle said. “It was the fighters who embraced me. The media didn’t.”
That respect and concern for boxers shines through in his book. The chapters include topics like “Sparring: What to Know,” “Turning Professional: Finding a Manager,” and “The Boxing Business and Promotions.” In a sport that has unfortunately often mistreated its own athletes, the focus of Ketelle’s book is a breath of fresh air. Here, young fighters are cautioned about red flags on the business side of things, provided with useful tips for the different stages of their careers, and given guidance on some of the intangibles that make a fighter successful in the long-term.
For example, chapter 5 of the book is titled, simply, “Character.”
“To me, character is the X factor,” Ketelle said. “People who don’t have the work ethic, the high character, always seem to go a little less far than a guy like a Timothy Bradley, who on paper shouldn’t have gone where he went. But he was unwilling to accept less than Hall of Fame.
“Character begins with commitment. If someone consistently comes to the gym without you having to remind them…if you give them a bottle of Gatorade and they come back the next day with $2.00 to pay for it...Someone with character is someone who’s not making excuses, someone accountable. The more accountability, the more you’re able to grow in boxing. It’s that ability to be honest with yourself about how good you actually are.
“Guys who aren’t accountable often can’t adjust in the ring either,” Ketelle added. “They often feel sorry for themselves. They’re more willing to lose and to embrace a loss rather than find a way to win.
“I think character is the biggest thing I learned from boxing gyms.”
Despite providing guidance and advice, Ketelle’s writing has a friendly, thought-provoking tone rather than a self-important one. It’s a pleasant and engaging book that will easily do what it’s intended to do: help aspirational boxers learn the fundamental and least-discussed aspects of the sport and ask themselves whether a full-time career in this difficult field is for them, or if it may be more of a hobby in the long run.
As for Ketelle, he’s already working on his next book.
“The next book is gonna be called Outside the Ropes of Boxing, and it’s going to be my road stories. I’ve already started on it. There will be guys in it like Karim Mayfield, Fabian Melendez…people that boxing or history might forget, but explaining why their stories matter.”
Inside the Ropes of Boxing: A Boxer’s Guide to Boxing is available for purchase on Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle format.