Fighting back against the crippling effects of Parkinson’s, Rock Steady Boxing launches in Orange County with the full endorsement of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. The former WBA Lightweight Champion states, “I believe in the Rock Steady Boxing method in the fight against Parkinson’s because I know it works.”
Rock Steady Boxing is Orange County’s newest and most exciting program that uses boxing-inspired fitness training and related exercises to slow the advancement of Parkinson’s disease. Participants range from 30 to 90 years old and work out in a highly energized, team-oriented environment. As a boxing great, “Boom Boom” Mancini understands first-hand how powerful boxing training can be for people affected with movement disorders. In the following interview, “Boom Boom” speaks out about the health benefits of boxing and just how effective this program is for those battling Parkinson’s.
Q & A with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini by Anne Adams, CPT & Rock Steady Boxing SC Coach
Q: How would you classify boxing as an exercise?
Boom Boom: Boxing is a core work out, if there was ever such a word. Boxing is the one sport that uses upper body and lower body muscles simultaneously. The hardest thing in sports is to move your hands and feet together. That’s why boxing has a certain grace to it – it’s a beautiful sport to watch.
Q: How do you think boxing helps with movement disorders?
Boom Boom: First of all, fighting is about muscle memory. When you move, when you associate how to throw a punch, it’s all about muscle memory… There’s that term – “he’s a ‘thinking fighter.” There’s no such word as a “thinking fighter.” Because fighters aren’t taught to think – they’re taught to react. And you have to react in milliseconds. And again, that’s muscle memory.
Q: How does the body involve the brain in boxing?
Boom Boom: We’re trained to anticipate the punch before it comes. We know by the way a guy moves with his hands or the way he twitches his shoulder what’s coming next, and we’re able to get out of the way of it. And yet, even when some fighters have had brain injuries, and some brain damage, they’re still able to move. Now, the neurological message doesn’t get to the brain as fast, but they still do it. Their body still has that transmitter, even if it’s a little slower, telling them to move their head, to bend their body a certain way. It’s actually very fascinating, the mind of a fighter, and how the mind and the body work.
Q: Do you see how Rock Steady Boxing works to help people with Parkinson’s?
Boom Boom: Absolutely. I’ve seen it, where guys have been in wheelchairs, and they’ll go to the gym and hit the bag. They still have movement, and they push the punches out, and they even move their heads side to side like a fighter. Again, it’s the one sport that uses the upper body and lower body simultaneously. Even if you’re sitting, you’re moving, and your legs are twitching, and the muscles are contracting at certain ways you move. So, it’s a complete work out – not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
Q: Yes, in fact, we are seeing that the Rock Steady Boxers are also feeling much better mentally. Can this be attributed to the boxing work out?
Boom Boom: You know, they tell you, “Go hit a bag, that’ll get all of your frustrations out.” And it does. You go hit that bag until you can’t stand up, til you’re completely exhausted of any motion or of any thought process. You’re just exhausted. And then when you sit back and relax, you have a clear head. [Boxing] allows oxygen coming to the brain on a physical level, but on a mental and emotional level, your mind is open and clear to receiving new thoughts, and hopefully positive thoughts. And that’s a wonderful feeling – to be clear.
Q: We would love to have you stop by the gym during one of our classes. Is that something you would do?
Boom Boom: I would really like to – I will definitely try!