Fighting Parkinson’s one punch at a time

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. coordination / koʊˌɔr dnˈeɪ ʃən / (n.) – the ability to make the different parts of the body move together in a controlled way

    Jumping rope can improve your body coordination.

  2. stability / stəˈbɪl ɪ ti / (n.) – the condition of being strong and steady and not changing

    Mountain climbing requires a lot of strength and stability.

  3. exhilarating / ɪɡˈzɪl əˌreɪ tɪŋ / (adj.) – making someone extremely happy and excited

    Surfing is a tiring but exhilarating activity.

  4. twitch / twɪtʃ / (n.) – a sudden and uncontrolled movement of a part of the body

    Too much stress can cause an eye twitch.

  5. dimension / dɪˈmɛn ʃən / (n.) – a part or feature of something

    Cooking has a creative dimension. It allows people to create new and exciting dishes.


Read the text below.

Speed, power, coordination and stability are all needed when you practice boxing. Little by little, people with Parkinson’s disease lose these exact skills. But in an Australian gym, a group of people with Parkinson’s is hitting punch bags and training with each other to boost their inner strength. “What do we do?… fight Parkinson’s!”

Daryl Kennedy may not be as energetic as he once was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy exercising. “It’s always exhilarating to know you’ve done something properly, and you feel that ‘oh yeah, I can still do it’,” he says.

In 2019, just after he retired as a telecommunication worker, 66-year-old Kennedy was told he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease after he noticed a twitch.

Since the diagnosis, the disease has grown. Kennedy used to be a marathon runner. Now, simply tying his shoelaces has become a daily challenge. Kennedy hasn’t given up on the quality of his everyday life, though. Far from it.

To regain some of their inner power, Kennedy and 20 other people living with Parkinson’s disease meet weekly in a boxing gym to train. Based on an American program that was created in 2006, the class offers no actual fighting but a lot of punching and physical exercises.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, Parkinson’s disease affects 2%–3% of the global population over 65 years. More than 100,000 Australians have the condition, with approximately 32 new cases diagnosed every day.

In the Melbourne boxing program, participants do all sorts of exercises including cardio, balance, flexibility and fine motor skills activities as well as plenty of punches.

Beyond the physical side of the classes, participants also mention the sense of community, spirituality and the healing dimension of being among people who have the same medical issues and can understand each other from that perspective.

And for Kennedy, Parkinson’s disease better beware because he won’t hold any punches. “Never give up, this disease wants to take me. It’s going to have a fight if it wants to take me,” concludes Kennedy.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The group of people fighting Parkinson’s disease one punch at a time at an Australian gym seems to be approaching their condition with so much positivity. Why do you think the boxing program has such an effect on them? Discuss.
  • Brooklynn Baker, the gym’s lead trainer, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she thinks there are only two places in Australia offering boxing classes for people living with Parkinson’s. Why do you think this is so? Do you think it’s time for fitness centers to consider having special programs for people with movement disorders? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Beyond the physical side of the classes, participants also mention the sense of community, spirituality, and the healing dimension of being among people who have the same medical issues. How important do you think these things are? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, how important is it for people with the same situation or condition to have their own community? Discuss.