Rocksteady boxing, Muhammad Ali's sport, helps some athletes giv - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Rocksteady boxing, Muhammad Ali's sport, helps some athletes give sucker-punch to Parkinson's disease

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The sport Muhammad Ali loved is now inspiring some local patients.

"Boxing itself is a microcosm of life, all the things you go through in the ring, that's a microcosms of what goes on outside the ring. That's why I like boxing," said Abdul Jarvis, the Rocksteady Boxing Instructor at Core Combat.

Bill Reed started boxing at Core Combat in April.

"You see me sweating -- that's what I love. I love a great workout. I love to push myself. Not only do they work your body but they work your brain," said Reed. 

And for this 65-year-old man, the battle inside the brain is a tough fight.

"There's lots of people like me who you would never know have Parkinson's," said Reed.

Reed was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease five years ago.

"You just witnessed Rocksteady Parkinson's Boxing class and it's a general fitness class -- especially for people with Parkinson's," said Jarvis.

Which gives the boxers a feeling of strong connection to 'The Greatest' -- Muhammad Ali.

"It's kind of ironic that one of the things that maybe gave or contributed to Ali getting Parkinson's actually helps with the cure for Parkinson's,"  said Jarvis. "So, it's kind of a strange connection, but it works out so well."

Ali became the face of Parkinson's disease with his diagnosis in the 1980s.

"What he's done with the awareness, the money and the funding -- that's why I have hope. I have a lot of hope," said Reed.

Research shows intensive exercises like boxing help slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.  

"We do a lot of cross-brain stimulus because what I try to do is reconnect the left and right hemisphere. That's key," said Jarvis.

"Beside the physical aspect, they try to get you to use your brain, the right and left side," said Reed.

Reed isn't the first person to box with Parkinson's disease and he likely won't be the last.

"It's a fight for their life. So it's a whole different story. They're not fighting for a trophy, or an accolade or money. They're doing this for life," said Reed.  

The sport Ali loved is giving patients like Reed hope for a cure.

"I always hoped I'd be able to run into him one day just to shake his hand tell him thank you," said Reed.

For Bill Reed, the future is unclear, but he says he will never give up the fight.

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