Abducted at gunpoint and fearing for his life, Jan Reid took a swing at the gunman and missed. A muzzle flashed, and the bullet that struck his spine would send his life careening out of control–until he looked within himself, and to his family and friends, and found healing.
When Reid’s friends talk him into coming along to an Austin boxing gym for a workout, he has no idea it will send him down a path that will completely change his life. Inside, in a ring held together with duct tape and the blood and sweat of a group of gritty boxers, Reid falls under the spell of the sport.
As his skills develop, his relationships with his fellow boxers deepen, especially with the talented young Mexican immigrant, Jesus Chavez. Through Chavez’s promising career, and his own informal sparring, Reid plunges into the culture of competition among men. But then, just when Chavez achieves a number-one world ranking, he is deported to Mexico. Heartbroken, Reid travels to Mexico City to watch Chavez begin his comeback, when a bombshell of a different sort blows open Reid’s own life: One night, after celebrating Chavez’s victory in a shadowy part of Mexico City, pistoleros carjack the taxi he is sharing with his friends. In the ensuing scuffle, a bandit fires a bullet that pierces Reid’s left arm, rips through his abdomen, and lodges itself in his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Reid then confronts new kinds of struggles in which the rules are no longer clear–the battle to regain the ability to walk, to bolster his marriage, to untangle his newly complicated relationship with Mexico, a country he once loved, and to live with dignity. Inspired by the love and valor of his wife, Dorothy, and daughter, Lila, Reid also draws on lessons from the boxing ring–physical conditioning, discipline, controlling frustration, and overcoming fear. Thus begins Reid’s physical and emotional journey to recover his strength, his masculinity, and his sense of self.
Reid not only examines the effects of his physical disability but also offers a revealing portrait of the testosterone-driven worlds that collided on that fateful night. With the observational prowess of a journalist and the raw power of a fighter, Reid shares in these pages his discovery of the value of other kinds of strength–and his new perspective on the evolution of Western male culture and machismo alike. Rich with insight and vividly told, this is the remarkable story of a true survivor.