Patients find strength in boxing

East Texans fight back against disorder with new boxing classes

Patients find strength in boxing

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A new boxing program in East Texas is helping those with a neurological disorder, fight off the sometimes-debilitating disease.

The sound of boxing gloves hitting heavy bags is the soundtrack to Tuesday afternoon for several boxers at UT Health East Texas.

Brandon Jones, Group Fitness Instructor, UT Health East Texas, tells KLTV,” typically, people think of boxing as getting punched and hit, but that's not case in this scenario.

Jones is the instructor of UT-Health’s newest 10-week program called CounterPunch.

He says these boxers are training to deliver a counter punch to their neurological disorder.

Boxing is fantastic for hand and eye coordination, for balance, for leg strengths,” adds Jones.

They won’t participate in bouts with each other, but exercises like shouting and sparring help patients like RC Rife battle their symptoms. I think if you don’t move it, you’re going to lose it,” explains Rife.

For 60 minutes, twice a week, Rife and other boxers alike, feel like they are “punching away” their neurological disease.

“I’ve already made up my mind, I’m going to fight for it. It’s just having something like this program that puts you into it and makes you fight for it,” adds Rife.

Doctors diagnosed rife with Parkinson’s Disease five years ago. In just three weeks, Rife says he is seeing significant results.

When you start swinging and you start feeling loose and you hit it hard one time, you come back next time and hit it a little harder,” says Rife.

Participants move through each station--knuckled fist to boxing bag--fighting.

This really helps them focus. I’m going to do two jabs with my right, so it becomes very focus driven. So hopefully it will fire those neurons off and they’ll be able to get better in what they do,” explains Jones.

Instructors say the physical activity not only provides increased mobility, but participants get their life back.

They’re fighting for their health. They’re fighting to try to gain back some of what their disease may of taken from them,” says Jones.

If you are interested in taking classes, Jones says UT Health East Texas will be offering another class beginning April 30th.

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