Former Super Welterweight World Champion Austin Trout is helping people fight Parkinson’s Disease and building homes for low-income families.
Former super welterweight world champion Austin “No Doubt” Trout (31-5, 17 KOs) has faced many of the best 154-pounders of his era. Outside the ring, Trout helps others to tap into their own warrior spirit and overcome adversity in life.
Most recently, Austin has become certified to lead classes with basic, non-contact boxing exercises for people with Parkinson’s disease. Through nonprofit organization Rock Steady Boxing,Trout works with those living with the disease, now dubbed fighters. As Austin said, “Once they join Rock City Boxing, they’re fighters,” fighting improve their quality of life in meaningful ways.
Austin first recognized how his craft could benefit those diagnosed with Parkinson’s over a decade ago.
“In 2007, when Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought Oscar De La Hoya, trainer Freddie Roach was saying he does his own boxing workout and that’s what kept him going, as far as dealing with his disease and being able to work and train his fighters. Since then I’ve been telling my coach, ‘Man, we should offer a boxing class for Parkinson’s.’”
Fast forward to last year, when another world champion fighter, Steve Cunningham posted on social media about a Parkinson’s boxing class he held. Inspired, Austin reached out and Cunningham put him in touch with Rock Steady Boxing.
Studies have shown that rigorous exercise, particularly focused and precise exercises like those inherent in boxing, improves the daily lives of those living with Parkinson’s in numerous ways.
“Some of the biggest benefits are for the non-motor symptoms,” Austin said. “Parkinson’s is a very isolating disease. They don’t want to go anywhere or do anything because they don’t like to be stared at. They feel like they’re going through this alone. This boxing class creates a community.”
Trout, who leads the classes three times a week in his home city of Las Cruces, New Mexico [http://nodoubt.rsbaffiliate.com/], feels that schedule will give the fighters the optimal benefits of the therapy.
“The other benefits are improving coordination, and it helps fight muscle rigidness and muscle degeneration—which is not a symptom of Parkinson’s, but because they aren’t being active, their muscles start to degenerate.
“Shuffling and freezing gates is another big problem. Their feet stop or get stuck as they’re walking, or their feet start going too fast. There are foot drills we do as boxers that help give them more control over their feet. We even teach them how to fall so they don’t hurt themselves.
“Another symptom is that your voice is [soft]—it’s hard to speak up. We help them with their speech. We exercise yelling. A lot of hand, eye, and brain coordination—as we’re punching the mitts, we’re yelling the numbers [corresponding to the punches being thrown], ‘One, two, three.’
“During the classes, we make fun of Parkinson’s. We say, ‘We’re gonna kick Parkinson’s ass today, huh?’”
There’s no question the fighters involved in the classes are seeing obvious benefits.
“One of the fighters was telling me, ‘I’ve been doing this boxing for 10 years. I’ve had Parkinson’s for 15. My symptoms are better in my 15th year of Parkinson’s than it was in my fifth year.’ He said he’s going to come until he can’t come no more.
“ I tell people boxing can be the vehicle that you use to do anything you want. ” Former Super Welterweight World Champion - Austin Trout
“We try to cater to almost every level of Parkinson’s. There are people who can’t walk. They come in wheelchairs and hit the bag and do what they can. But six weeks later, they’re walking or running around.”
The significance of the meeting between the craft he’s been honing since he was 10 and the ability to use it to help others doesn’t escape Trout.
“It was a match made in heaven. I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences.”
Anyone can volunteer with Rock Steady Boxing—not just professional boxers. Austin and his gym are also working on adding additional benefits for volunteers however they can.
“We need volunteers. In fact, it’s the cornermen—the caretakers, the families, friends, volunteers—that help keep this going. Depending on the level, we have to give a lot of attention to all the fighters. Some more than others. So volunteer work is kind of how we end up dividing it all up.
“We’re in talks with New Mexico State University and their athletic program to see if we can give volunteers credit hours. We’re also going to work with the probation program and get some hours ticked off for non-violent offenders.”
Austin is also actively involved in his local community, reaching out to the younger generation through boxing and other activities—at the same gym he grew up in.
“We’ve got a chess club. I’m trying to get a tutoring/study hall kind of thing too. I’m trying to make it a boxing/rec center,” Trout said. “It really is preventative for children, especially in this area. It’s a poor man’s sport. It’s just an option that I want to have available for these kids—there’s not much [positive] for them to do here.
“Anything for the kids, I do.”
Last fall, Austin participated in an exhibition boxing match to raise money for Las Cruces organization C.A.R.E. (Cancer Aid Resource & Education). He also recently took part in a Habitat for Humanity build.
“Habitat for Humanity teaches you how to build a house from scratch. It’s all volunteer work. These houses go for very low money, and they’re nice houses these families who wouldn’t [otherwise] be able to afford a house can get. They now own that house. So you’re helping build a financial future for that family, and they can leave that house to their children. Habitat for Humanity really is for the humans.”
After 23 years of commitment to boxing, Trout’s love for the sport still shines through when he talks about the impact it can have.
“I tell people boxing can be the vehicle that you use to do anything you want. It don’t even have to be boxing. You want to get fit: boxing. You want to have something to do to stay off the streets: boxing. If you just want to learn something about yourself and learn a discipline: boxing. “Boxing has been my life savior.”
For a closer look at Austin Trout, check out his fighter page.
"Outside the Ring" is a regular feature centered on the charitable efforts of PBC fighters. Learn more about what motivates these boxers and the causes they support outside the ring.