Our History

Rock Steady Boxing, the first and only boxing program designed for people with Parkinson's Disease, was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2006 by former Marion County Prosecutor, Scott C. Newman, who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's at the age of 40.

The seed for what would eventually become Rock Steady Boxing was planted when Newman began one-on-one boxing training a few years after he was diagnosed. He witnessed a dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility and daily functioning because of the intense, high-energy boxing workouts. Newman’s quality of life improved dramatically in a short time due to how he fought back against Parkinson’s disease. 

The Next Step

In 2013, after seeing Rock Steady Boxing in action at the World Parkinson's Congress in Montreal, Mary Neilans travelled to Indianapolis to become certified as a Rock Steady Boxing coach. Mary also committed to bringing the benefits of Rock Steady Boxing to Canada by forming the first and only Canadian affiliate - Rock Steady Boxing Toronto.

In 2014, Joey Freeman, who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's in 2009, completed Rock Steady Boxing certification. He currently serves as both a volunteer coach and a support person for Parkinson's boxers.

Lita Mae Button and James McClelland have travelled to Indianapolis to become Rock Steady Boxing-certified coaches and join the Toronto affiliate, which was launched in April 2016 during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

As word of this unique program spread and the demand for classes continued to increase, Rock Steady developed and expanded training programs for fitness levels for people at all stages of Parkinson’s - from newly diagnosed to those who have been living with Parkinson's for several decades or longer.

Not only does boxing training offer an appropriately challenging workout, it is also FUN! Through Rock Steady Boxing, boxers with Parkinson's find a place where they form friendships with others who truly understand what it's like to live with Parkinson's. Inside or outside the ring, male or female, young or old, they speak the same language and share the same daily challenges, and they fight them together.

Rock Steady Boxing’s mission and message are simple: If you are living with Parkinson’s, you are not alone. Our boxers may not win trophies, but they are all champions.