David Watkins, NBC 5 Sports
Fort Worth native and boxing legend now helping patients beat Parkinson's.
Paulie Ayala has done it all in boxing.
The two-time world champion is still involved in the sport he loves. His promotional company produces a series of bouts in North Texas, featuring local fighters.
Ayala is also training athletes, including a special group of students. The champ teaches a free boxing class exclusively for Parkinson’s patients. Paulie has no ties to Parkinson’s. He runs this class out of the goodness in his own heart.
Even though the disease effects motor skills, Ayala pushes his students like they’re preparing for a prize fight. It’s the only way he knows how to train.
“I want them to personally get better because I know them, and they come and they’re trusting me to help them,” said Ayala.
“Before I started here, I was up to probably 13 pills a day, and most of last year I maintained at about four pills a day,” said Gary Schmitz who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2000.
“It almost becomes my new medication of choice, is to come in here and workout. And the harder you push, the more benefits [you get]. Its reconnecting your mind back with your body and your body parts that Parkinson’s wants to take away from you.”