UK Disability History Month: How boxing has helped Nic live with Parkinson’s disease
December 3, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny
Nic Mortensen has been regular attendee at Broad Plain Boxing Club’s Boxing for Parkinson’s class, which was established in 2016 – and would recommend it to anyone.
After being very active as a youngster and playing lots of sports at schools and university, he lost touch with the teams and playing as he got older and became an armchair sports enthusiast.
Then, in 2003, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 43, which he has tried to manage with medication and appropriate exercise.
And it has that need to keep active that eventually led him to boxing, as he explains.
“I was introduced to Nordic walking in 2013 and really enjoyed it, Nordic Walking the 2015 Bristol 10km 1hr 22mins, “ said Nic. “We set up a Parkinson’s Nordic Walking group which included our partners; the social side was vital.
“Dawn, our trailblazer, then went to the World Parkinson’s Congress in America and saw all about Boxing for Parkinson’s and how good boxing was for the condition.
“When she returned, we contacted Dennis at Broad Plain’s Boxing Club and the sessions went from there.
“Initially Dennis (Head Coach at Broad Plain’s Boxing Club) was not convinced, but once he saw the group and the difference he could make to our lives, he took us on, as his next challenge. The club has an open-door policy, and everybody is accepted.
“Boxing is great for posture, core and balance and as it involves a lot of quick movements, challenge’s cognitive ability, such as remembering the sequence of instructions. As with Nordic walking, Cardiovascular performance improves quickly, which is great for blood flow and getting oxygen to the brain.
“Boxing and Nordic walking have helped me control and manage my condition and it has prevented it from progressing quickly.
“The two together are a great combination ensuring that my whole body is benefiting. We always socialise after over a cup of coffee and cake. Exercising with people who have a similar condition has improved my self-confidence.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has really affected me, I managed a little exercise but not enough and I found it easier to focus on more cerebral activities at a desk, which saw me develop back problems. But I have since had to build myself back up again, and I will be back!
“I would certainly recommend Boxing for Parkinson’s to everybody. You may need to take time to adjust – the group have been doing this for a number of years – but I have seen people come into the gym in a wheelchair and after a session they are standing, punching a bag
“Dennis and the team at Broad Plain are great… they welcome everybody and ensure that all sessions are adapted to meet individual needs. It is great to be part of this club.”
England Boxing’s Lead for Inclusive Boxing, Alicia Wibolt, said: “Nic shows that boxing can be a sport for anybody.
“The sport can be a great way to manage many health conditions, but f you have a health conditions or a disability and wish to take up boxing, make sure you consult your doctors and specialists beforehand.”
To find out more about Parkinson’s Disease go to www.parkinsons.org.uk