Mike Talley

I am 62 years old and I have had Parkinson’s for about 8 years. I was definitively diagnosed 2 years ago at a world-renowned medical institute by five neurologists.

They handed me the diagnosis, put me on carbidopa/levodopa, and basically sent me home to die. They offered me no direction on finding ways to stay healthy, like exercise. One of them even said I should stop running because I was falling. At that time my balance was terrible. I have been an avid runner for 21 years. Needless to say, I have not heeded the advice of that doctor.

I heard about Rock Steady Boxing from a friend who sent me a link to a video of the CBS Sunday Morning Lesley Stahl piece about her husband’s battle with Parkinson’s. I thought, “That’s for me,” but there was no affiliate near me at the time.

Later, a friend with Parkinson’s told me about a Rock Steady coach named Zach Guza. Zach had started coaching Rock Steady Boxing classes at a Title Boxing Club in Knoxville, TN. Zach is an amazing coach and a personal trainer who is in part motivated by watching his father’s struggle with Parkinson’s.

My strength, balance, agility, hand-eye coordination, cognition, outlook on life, self-confidence, and good looks have all improved. I can’t get enough! I not only attend classes for myself twice a week, I also started helping out with classes for more severely affected PD boxers. The camaraderie and exchange of information about PD with my fellow fighters is invaluable.

When I heard there was a “Training Camp” seminar at the Rock Steady Boxing headquarters in Indianapolis, I asked Zach if he thought I should do it and he said to go for it. The RSB Training Camp was phenomenal.

I was amazed at the level of commitment and energy that the coaches, staff, and participants demonstrated.  Shortly after I returned from training, Zach had to miss class and I taught two classes myself (multiple PD levels). I have gone from feeling weak and unsteady to teaching boxing classes!

I recently got my first ever tattoo. It is on my left wrist, because it is a message to me rather than a statement to others. The tattoo says “Never Quit.” I have three diseases: Parkinson’s, depression, and alcoholism (sober 21 years). The tattoo is to remind me that if I quit fighting, one of them will kill me sooner rather than later. So; I NEVER QUIT!!!!!!

Mike Talley boxes with RSB affiliate Rock Steady Boxing Knoxville, in Knoxville, Tennessee.