BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dean Eoannou coached some of the most successful boxers to come out of Buffalo. Now he’s putting that life aside. He’s taking on new students whose fight extends beyond the ring.
Eoannou has been training world champion for 15 years. That includes Ringside World Champion and Golden Gloves National Champion Wendy Casey. Casey said, “If he wasn’t there I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now.”
Eoannou said, “My goal was to have champions running from one end of the gym to the other. I thought that would be amazing.”
All of the faces that line his walls are national or world title holders he’s trained out of the University at Buffalo’s boxing program.
Casey said, “Dean can make anyone a champion.” But he gave up training those champions, for “fighters” of a different breed.
One of his clients, Moira Schorr said, “I see people sneaking looks, you know, and it’s a little embarrassing.”
For another client Mike Brown, he said, “It all started with a finger twitch, and I couldn’t stop my finger from twitching.”
Over the last decade, studies show training like “Rocky” to treat Parkinson’s disease can work. In many cases slowing down the progression of the deadly nervous system disorder, and Eoannou jumped on board. Eoannou said, “I probably couldn’t spell Parkinson’s when I first addressed it.”
He has no medical background, and these techniques have never officially been proven. But he does know how to box.
Eoannou said, “Everything works together with boxing. So the feet work with the punches and the weight transfer.”
He trains each of his “fighters” just like anyone without Parkinson’s who would get into this ring. Tony Musilli from Amherst said, “I used to be able to do everything. I had to give up my job, I’ve gone on disability.”
Musilliwas Eoannou’s first trainee with Parkinson’s.When he started at the gym 2 years ago, he couldn’t walk without help.
He said, “I’d walk in my house and wouldn’t be able to hold my balance, I’d fall over my dog, I would fall getting into bed.”
He’s fighting Multiple System Atrophy, which he calls Parkinson’s on steroids. Now he’s training 7 days a week. Musilli said, “I would’ve thought I would be in a wheelchair by now, but doing this has kept me out of it.”
No one expects to end up in a boxing gym. This was certainly the case for Barbara Rubin. Rubin said, “I’m sitting in this boxing gym, and i’m in my 60’s, and I thought how did i get here?”
After her diagnosis, she felt lost. “I had really gotten discouraged. I know about Parkinson’s, I know it can be very tough, and I was worried, very worried. I lost ten pounds, I was a wreck.”
But then she met Eoannou. She said, “He got me started moving, and I said, “wait a minute, I can do this stuff! It gives a patient like me, a sense of empowerment.”
Eoannou works with everyone one on one and tracks their progress. He said, “We track everything we can: the performance, is it sleep induced? Is it new medication? Or is he going backwards? So far he hasn’t gone backwards. “
Now he’s built a community in this little basement gym. Eoannou said his “fighters,” have a lot to live for.
He said, “I had a great job, but you never got that out of it. I was never looking for that out of it, so I guess that’s what makes it so emotional, when you find something you never expected to grab you like that. Every single person that came here told me, I don’t want to get any worse. Every one of them has gotten better.”
If you want to learn more about Boxing Fights Parkinsons you can contact Dean Eoannou at his website, or email him at DEoannou@yahoo.com