Boxing gym in Largo empowers people with Parkinson’s

LARGO, FL (WFLA) – As a young man, Muhammad Ali declared himself “The Greatest”.  And he was. Perhaps the biggest fight he waged in life though was with Parkinson’s disease. He battled it for decades.

In Largo, there’s a place dedicated to helping others in the very same fight. It’s called Rock Steady Boxing, held Bodyssey Performace and Recovery. On the wall, there are the boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali. It’s a perfect marker of their mission: ‘To Empower People with Parkinson’s.’

Among them, Anne Boehme diagnosed with the disease 14 years ago. At 79 years young, Rock Steady gives her strength.

“It gets the endorphins moving, you know you’re using muscles that you wouldn’t use in regular exercise,” she said.

It helps both physically and emotionally.

“It’s great to be with other Parkinson’s patients. You don’t feel so alone.”

Rock Steady Boxing is a national program and is the first and only boxing program of its kind in the country. It was founded in 2006, however, the location in Largo opened last October.

Jordan Whittemore is one of the teachers. She says the things that affect people with Parkinson’s, are the things boxers train for.

“They lose their balance, have hand-eye coordination issues, they have lots of stiffness. Boxers train for all of those things. So that’s why we do boxing,” she said.

It’s an opportunity for people like Anne Boehme to fight back and fight on.

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