Former boxer Mia St. John had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings roughly six days a week before orders to shut the meetings down came following Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home order. 

“The biggest thing for me is the accountability,” she said. “When I’m physically at my meetings, I can’t just walk out, or grab a drink. I am accountable. Nobody gets up and walks out in the middle of their meeting, but in Zoom you can do that all day long.”

St. John tells Inside the Issues she tried virtual meetings but said these online versions aren’t as effective for her as in-person meetings are.

That’s when she discovered in-person meetings were still being held, “but just in secrecy.” Attendees are safe, she said, people wear a mask and gloves, and they stay 6 feet apart.

“The city tried to shut me down. A security officer came and told us we needed to shut it down and I said, ‘No’ because we're not doing anything wrong,” she said.

The stay-at-home order in Los Angeles allows for convenience stores that sell food to stay open and does not allow for public gatherings like the meetings. St. John called the decision “ludicrous."

St. John is the founder of the Mia St. John Foundation which seeks to help those suffering from mental illness, homelessness, addiction and poverty through education and physical and mental health. She knows these diseases and tragedies too well. The boxing champ lost her ex-husband, Kristoff St. John, to alcoholism and a son to suicide after suffering from mental illness. She said she relapsed one night recently, after she wasn’t able to find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It left her feeling “isolated.”

“It's so important that we get back up. I’m a fighter and so that’s what I’m going to do,” she said. 

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