When a boxer walks up the three steps before entering the ring, more often than not, those last steps represent the culmination of an arduous journey that has led them to the squared circle.
On the eve of the eighth fight of her professional career, for the NY State super flyweight title, Patty Alcivar (6-1, 3 KO) can reflect on a long and tumultuous road that led to professional boxing.
Born in Elmhurst, Queens to Colombian immigrant parents, Alcivar early in life faced challenges that forged a focus, drive, and determination that is required of every fighter.
After growing up in an abusive household that saw her father leave when she was ten, Alcivar made the difficult decision to leave home at the age of fifteen. “My mom was left with four girls to raise on her own,” Alcivar related before a training session at the Trinity Boxing Club in Manhattan. “She was overwhelmed and did not know how to handle it. I was the middle child and for some reason became the emotional punching bag. I felt it was better to be on my own than in a house where I felt hated.”
Renting a room from an elderly woman in her neighborhood, Alcivar continued to attend high school. She supported herself by working after school and weekends at a local store. She learned how to stretch a dollar early as the weekly rent for her room did not leave much left over from her paycheck.
However, with a safe, peaceful place to call her own, Alcivar began to build a life for herself. She ultimately graduated high school with honors and at age sixteen ran in the New York City marathon. She received a special dispensation from the Road Runners Club that allowed her to compete at such a young age. This would mark the beginning of a series of triumphs in the world of sports.
An early love of dance and ballet first attracted Alcivar’s attention. When lessons became too expensive to continue, Alcivar transitioned to martial arts training. Beginning with Korean karate she advanced to the study of a Japanese style that involved full contact sparring. It was there that she found an outlet for feelings that felt right.
After winning a national amateur tournament in karate, Alcivar looked for her next challenge.
At this time she had begun to work in a shelter for battered women. “Everything in my life has happened for a reason,” Alcivar stated emphatically. “My work at the shelter gave me a great education and understanding of the cycle of domestic abuse.” It also led her to boxing.
Staff members at the shelter were given the perk of taking free classes at The New School. Alcivar chose one being given about boxing. Upon arriving at the class she was disappointed to learn that while technique and fitness would be taught, there would be no actual contact or sparring.
Upon learning about her disappointment, instructor Martin Snow invited Alcivar to hit him with her best shot. A well placed punch to the solar plexus doubled over the six foot five inch Snow, and a trainer/fighter relationship was born.
There followed an outstanding amateur career that saw Alcivar capture a gold medal at the first women’s National Amateur Boxing Championships in 1997, followed by a silver medal the following year, along with two consecutive NYC Golden Gloves titles in 1998 and 1999. She was also the first female boxer to be voted athlete of the year by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
As her amateur career wound down a move to the pro ranks seemed like the logical next step. However, Alcivar balked at turning pro. “I had heard so many negative things about pro boxing it was scary,” a reflective Alcivar noted. A five year hiatus from the sweet science followed.
Finally in 2009 Alcivar began her pro career. Her first pro fight took place in Columbia, Tennessee and was part of a reality television pilot called ‘Dreamers.”
Since that first fight her pro career has moved along with fits and starts, not uncommon to women professional fighters.
Securing a manager and promoter in the male dominated world of boxing has proven difficult for Alcivar. “One of the reasons I struggled to get on cards and find proper management is because I refuse to compromise my integrity and I stand my ground.”
Numerous dinner invitations to “discuss” career strategy have forced Alcivar to read between the lines. One prominent manager even invited Alcivar to spend the weekend at his house so they could “plan” her career.
With noted entertainment lawyer Elizabeth Lemere handling her contractual negotiations, and an agreement with newly formed Uprising Promotions, Alcivar continues on her quest to fight for and win a world title.
How that quest ultimately turns out is a story yet to be written. Whatever fame may come her way in the ring, Alcivar is already rooted in service and giving back to others.
She will soon begin her third year as a coach/mentor for the Road Runner Club’s “Run for the Future” program, in which she trains twenty New York City female high school students to run their first 5K race. “Many of these girls come from troubled homes and I am like a big sister to them. We talk not only about sports and fitness, but about life as well.” Alcivar explained. “My message to young girls everywhere is to never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.”
Following the progress and hopeful rise of Alcivar through the ranks should be interesting. Will she be able to navigate her way through the treacherous waters of boxing and one day place a world title belt around her waist?
For a woman who decided long ago to face her fears and live her dreams, a belt alone cannot be a measure of victory.
Patty Alcivar faces Eileen Olszewski for the NY State super flyweight title on March 27 at the Five Star Banquet in Long Island City, NY, on a card promoted by Uprising Promotions, headlined by the promoter, Ronson Frank. Doors open 6:30pm. First bout 7:30pm. For ticket information call Trinity Boxing Club (212) 374-9393.