Boxing to win when Parkinson’s is the opponent

New Hampshire Union Leader

Al Latulippe was working at a gym in Chelmsford, Mass., when he was approached by a man with Parkinson’s disease. The man asked him if he was OK providing boxing training to someone with his condition.

“I thought ‘Hell,no!’” he said. “I didn’t know if I could do this, but I told him I could.”

The first time Latulippe worked with the man, Greg Gehab, it was a light training session — not because of Gehab’s condition, but because Latulippe said he was nervous. Gehab told him he had a taken a “Rock Steady” boxing class while visiting his daughter in Indianapolis and it was shown to help people with Parkinson’s. There were no similar classes in the area, so Gehab thought training with Latulippe would help.

Latulippe then watched some videos online of other Parkinson’s patients taking the Rock Steady classes and was “blown away.”

“These people were training just as hard as my amateur and my professional boxers,” Latulippe said. “So I gave (Gehab) a hard workout and when it was over he smiled and said ‘It’s just what I needed.’”

The two formed a bond and a partnership to help other Parkinson’s patients through the Rock Steady boxing program. Both became certified instructors and went out to recruit others to take classes. Gehab dropped from 240 pounds to a ripped 170.

That was three years ago and today Latulippe is offering these classes in Concord as well as the Massachusetts cities of Lawrence, Newton and Braintree. Gehab has moved to North Carolina, where he is spreading the story of Rock Steady, Latulippe said.

Parkinson’s is a slow progressing neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects more than 1 million…

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