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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Parkinson’s Foundation says nearly 90,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the US every year.

Now, one group in Desoto County is fighting the disease. WREG’s Shay Simon met up with Rock Steady Boxing to show us how.

Once the boxing gloves are strapped on — it’s time for Rock Steady Boxing. What starts as a small class for seniors in Southaven catching up on the week and stretching quickly cranks up the intensity.

“Ms. April, she’s not only just a coach but she drives you hard but its for your own good,” Phillip Santucci said.

These boxers battling Parkinson’s disease head on with punching bags.

“Once they walk through the door they no longer a patient with Parkinson’s — they are a boxer,”
April Carpenter said, Rock Steady Boxing head coach.

“I was devastated because I have always been a big guy… I cant do anything like I used to,” Phillip said.

When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015, it was only half the battle for Phillip Santucci — he says now the brain disorder causes him to have uncontrollable tremors that makes things like walking and talking a challenge.

“It attacks their non motor functions – parts of their daily living,” April said.

However, Phillip is not going down without a fight. “This is not going to stop me,” he said.

Punch after punch, Rock Steady Boxing is equipping him with the moves to keep going.

“A boxer training for a boxing match are all the same things a patient needs.. So speed, movement, balance, footwork, agility,” April said.

The skills in the boxing ring are helping patients like Phillip stay physically and mentally strong.

“When you give up you go down. [So,] keep fighting,” Phillip said.

Classes are available: Mon/Wed 12:30-2pm, Thursday at 7 pm and Saturday 11:30-1pm.