Lorna Dollery Using Boxing To Give Hope To Others

Lorna Dollery has been immersed in the world of boxing and mixed martial arts her entire life. Her cousin Graham Boylan is the owner of Cage Warriors, an Irish owned mixed martial arts promotion based in London that has been staging MMA fights since July of 2002. Fighters such as Conor McGregor have made a name for themselves through Cage Warriors. Dollery’s father and one of her brothers worked for Boylan, while Dollery’s other brother owned a boxing gym.

“I am the only girl in the family and not sporty,” Dollery said. ““I started boxing when I was in college about 14 years ago. My brother had his boxing gym back home in Ireland and I used to work there. Eventually I was like ‘I guess I will do the fitness thing’ and started doing some classes there. Then I just fell in love with it.”

Photo By Rachel Elizabeth Photography

Dollery came to Nantucket from Cork, Ireland in 2009. The trips initially began as summer outings, but Dollery quickly fell in love with the island and found herself staying here longer and longer.

“The summers quickly turned to falls and falls turned to winters and before I knew it I was living here full-time,” she said. “I have been here permanently for six years.”

Dollery said growing up she was never good at any team sports.

“I was terrible at all of it,” she said. “I would leave my gym gear at home on purpose and hide in the music room. I wasn’t a sporty person. But the first time my brother took me to a boxing class he was like ‘wow you are pretty decent’ and I just kept going from there. So I guess I finally found my thing I love in life although it was later in life.”

Three and a half years ago Dollery built her own boxing studio on 3 Old South Road where she has roughly 20-30 clients. She said she has a couple of kid clients and loves when she has kids to work with because often times she sees a lot of herself in them.

“They are my favorite because sometimes they are the kids not involved in other sports, which is cool because I was like that too,” she said. “It is cool to get the kids who haven’t found their sport yet. It makes me feel like I am helping them find their thing through my work at the studio.”

On December 7 Dollery will be using her boxing talent for a special cause. She will be fighting in the Haymakers For Hope event at the House of Blues, a charity boxing event raising money for cancer research.

“I don’t have a skill to do something hands on like I am not in a research lab and I am not a doctor, but I do know how to box,” she said. “So I see it as a fun way to use a skill I have to make a difference.”

Dollery said she tried to sign up a couple years ago but didn’t get on the card because of the hundreds of other applications the event receives. It wasn’t until another boxer dropped out recently that she was able to slide her way into the event.

To prepare for the event Dollery has been traveling to the Hyannis Mixed Martial Arts Studio twice per week to train and has put aside her disdain for running and has made it a habit to build up her conditioning and stamina. She said she embraces every opportunity she has to get in the ring.

“I just think it is fun,” she said. “It is empowering too I mean, I’m little. I am not an aggressive or scary person but I feel strong and empowered when I box. Boxing is cool because I think anyone can do it. You might not be Muhammad Ali but anyone can learn the basics and get the benefit of it which is a lot of things like strength, coordination, and brain function. They actually use non-contact boxing with people who have Parkinson’s Disease now because the brain-body connection is so strong. They will do mitt work or bag work. It has a lot of health benefits but obviously getting hit in the head isn’t very healthy.”

Dollery has raised over $16,000 after organizers said they would be happy if she were able to raise $2,500 because of her late entry.

“Within the first day I surpassed that $2,500 mark,” she said. “It is mind blowing but that is Nantucket for you. People are so generous and giving here on this island. At the end of the day training has been really hard. There are days where I have been like ‘why am I doing this’ when I come home with headaches. Everyone else over there just drives over to the gym but I have to take the boat and an entire day twice per week to train. I am sparring, it hurts, and I leave the studio sometimes saying why am I bothering.”

“But seeing the donations rack up has been such a boost. It is that reminder of ‘okay this is why you are doing it and getting punched in the face twice per week.’

She said it also comes down to one simple reality she thinks of every day when she wakes up and prepares for the day.

“Training is hard but having cancer is harder,” she said. “I can handle it.”

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