If she were a man, no one would ask Kellsey Lyle why she loves what she does.
Then she might have an easier time understanding and explaining why boxing is her unique hobby. It would be easier to gain understanding from family members who might actually be more accepting if she was of a different sexual orientation. After all, homosexuality is more common than female boxers.
When she was 16, some family members called it a phase she was growing through or figured she would find something else after getting punched in the face a few times. When she suffered her first bloody nose, she loved it, calling it a battle wound.
After she turned 18, Lyle and her mother moved from New Hampshire to Colorado where she couldn't find a gym that had any female fighters or wanted any. Forced to give up, Lyle went to school and earned a degree in medical studies. Then she met a guy, got married and started having babies. They eventually ended up in Ohio with four kids.
But Lyle never quit loving "Rocky" movies or watching boxing on TV. The phase never died, but the marriage did, so she decided to try to recover her boxing dream. After moving to Fort Wayne last November, she's trying again, currently working out at Sud'N Impact on Covington Road.
"It takes a special kind of person to probably want to do this, but I love the challenge of it," Lyle said. "The more people think I can't do this and can't make it just fuels me. I just love the competition, but I don't know how to explain it."
She's learned to quit trying to understand it and just accept it. Now 28, she's knows she's got a finite opportunity and wants to compete quickly, which drives her coaches nuts. They'd prefer more time to train, but she's anxious to test herself.
One problem, though. There aren't many female fighters, and hardly any in the Fort Wayne area. That means she'll have to travel to probably face more experienced fighters who didn't take nine years off from training.
"There's women's kickboxing classes, and a lot of women do that to be in shape and look good," she said. "I'm not there to make my butt look good. I'm there to fight. I want people to know my name. I want to be known as a fighter."
Since she started training every day, Lyle has dropped from 140 pounds to 120, from a size 6 or 7 to a size 3. On top of the training, she lifts weights in her garage and runs three miles a day while trying to push that to six. Because of the lack of local fighters, she'll need to reach 115 pounds to find competition.
When she starting sparring, Lyle told her boss at Brooklyn Medical that if she showed up with a few bruises it wasn't because she was in an abusive relationship or because she got into a fight at a bar.
"You really have to want to do this," she said. "I think I have heart more than anything. I like being the underdog and having something to prove with nothing to lose.
"I think all I need is in here," she says, pointing at her chest.
She might have an easier time breaking into mixed martial arts fighting, but Lyle said she lacks the wrestling and martial arts skills to build on. She also doesn't love that like she does boxing.
Another thing she lacks is fear. One ulterior goal is to prove to her kids that they can rely on themselves, be independent and accomplish whatever they want. Their mom has a college degree, a mortgage, a car and a good job to go along with plenty of pride, independence and stubbornness.
"I'm not really scared of violence," she said. "I know that every time I'm not training, somebody out there is training to kick my butt. I'm really not afraid of anybody. What kind of fighter would I be if I was afraid of someone? I'll give it all I have and hopefully I'll win. If I don't win, then I need to work on something the next time."
But somehow she's got to find the chance for the first time. Wanting something like that is easy to understand.