Taking the Fight to Parkinson’s: Rock Steady Boxing

Katie Grove and Kim Heikkila
Saturday, March 27, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:30am
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Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) is a non-contact boxing program that helps people with Parkinson’s through intense exercise, camaraderie, and good fun. Established in Indianapolis in 2006, RSB has 900 affiliate programs throughout the world, including three in the metro area. 

Recalling former heavyweight champion Muhammed Ali at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, his masked face, shaking arm, and stiff gait, symbols of Parkinson’s disease, many people assume his illness was a direct result of years in the ring. Ironically, boxing is now routinely prescribed for people with Parkinson’s. 

Dr. Katie Grove is coach and program co-director at Rock Steady Boxing, Saint Paul. She was athletic trainer at Indiana University, athletic training program director in the School of Public Health. She was induced in the National Athletic Trainers’ Hall of Fame and received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Montana, where she had completed her bachelor’s degree.

Kim Heikkila, Ph.D., has been training people with Parkinson’s to box for almost five years and helped establish the first RSB program in Minnesota. Kim is also an independent scholar, oral historian and author. MISF supported her work on the book Booth Girls: Pregnancy, Adoption, and the Secrets we Kept (2021) with two Minnesota Histroical Society Legacy grants.