How could it possibly be selfish to pour your time, money and heart into opening a boxing gym for underprivileged youth? For Loddy (Liz) Tolzmann ’05, the answer is easy.

“It’s inherently selfish to give, because it feels so good,” she smiled.

Giving back to the community is a priority for Tolzmann and her husband, Scott, both of whom were deeply influenced by the values of the Catholic schools they attended.  Combine their shared passion for social justice and their entrepreneurial spirit with Scott’s love of boxing, and the result is Tolzmanns’ Twin Cities Boxing.

Tolzmann isn’t someone you would immediately associate with boxing – or with being a  lawyer. “Everybody was surprised when I wanted to become a lawyer,” she said. “But it’s not about how loud and fast you can talk. It’s about being knowledgeable and using deep reasoning skills to help people. As a lawyer, I knew I could be a role model and affect change.” These days, she accomplishes those goals as an immigration lawyer at the Minneapolis firm of Davis and Goldfarb, PLLC.

Being a role model is natural to Tolzmann. She emigrated from Laos with her family  when she was 1 year old, and is the first member of her family to pursue higher education. A graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Tolzmann was attracted to the School of Law’s mission of public service and integrating faith and reason, along with the sense of community she felt while visiting. “The School of Law lived up to all my hopes,” she said.

Hope is everything at Tolzmanns’ Twin Cities Boxing, a north Minneapolis gym that  toubles as an intervention and prevention program that uses boxing as an alternative to anti-social behavior. By providing an alternative to crime, drugs and gangs, the gym teaches responsibility, respect, positive self-image and a strong work ethic.

The expectations are high. Teens must apply and have a personal interview to be accepted into the program. Four nights a week, they learn about boxing and life from Scott Tolzmann and the other adults who workout there – including Loddy. She’s at the gym two nights a week, interacting with teens who often are amazed to be training alongside a lawyer.

Community support is strong from organizations such as the Minneapolis Police Athletic  League, the YMCA and the Hennepin County probation system. The connection to the School of Law is equally strong. John Ross McCullough, a 2005 graduate, is a board member, as is Brian Toft, whose wife, Allissa, is a 2007 graduate. But the real  connection is with the School of Law’s mission. “The mission is a part of life at school, a  part I missed after graduation,” said Tolzmann. The Tolzmanns are keeping the mission alive as they fulfill their dream of opening a boxing gym. At the same time, they’re giving kids a dream, too.

Read more from St. Thomas Lawyer.

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