Lincoln Pius X Catholic High School

Mat Bickley ’93

What is your business name?

Rock Steady Boxing Wasatch Front

What brought you to this to opening your boxing gym?

Both my wife and I have been boxing for about 10 years. My wife’s Full Time job is in Hospice and hence, one day, when going to the boxing gym she saw an elderly man working mitts in the ring with one of the trainers. When he got out of the ring she noticed that he had tremors and a shuffle (prime indicators of Parkinsons). She asked the boxing coach about this unusual fighter (you don’t see many 80 year olds in a boxing gym) and he said the guy called him up and asked if he would train him because he was informed boxing was a good way to help fight the symptoms of Parkinson’s. So my wife came home and googled “Parkinson’s and Boxing” and found out about an international program headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, called Rock Steady Boxing. By the time I got home from work she informed me we were opening a business!

How long has your boxing gym been open?

4 years

How has your work with Parkinson patients impacted you and your life?

It has been amazing! I we have met so many amazing people that were told to take their meds and go home, the disease will just progress. We have been able to help people fight back in a meaningful way and improve their quality of life. When you help people improve their quality of life, yours improves as well. I have made new friends, I have become more empathetic to mental health issues and also been seen such miracles that you can’t help but grow in your faith!

How does your faith play into your role?

Teaching is a gift of the Holy Spirit, I see myself using this gift to help improve the temple of the Holy Spirit which is my fighters (we never call them patients) body.

How do you see your work evolving in the future?

Well this is definitely a side gig and we don’t do it for the money, since we never turn anyone away for financial reasons. Since we were the first to open a Rock Steady in Utah, we have really been able to educate the Parkinson’s community about the benefits of exercise and especially boxing. We have seen a huge increase in the number of referrals we get from Dr.’s because the fighters are returning better rather than worse for their check ups. So I guess that is the long way of saying, we want to reach out to as many people as we can through our gyms and get the word out there, that there is hope for people to fight back against this disease.

What initiatives or projects are you hoping to start or finish in the coming years?

We are opening one more gym in Orem Utah, this year to expand south and help that community as well. Plus my wife (she is a Social Worker) has started a support group for care givers and we hope to grow in the community to not only help those that are affected by the disease but also help the familys that are impacted as well. The greatest accomplishment would be to actually close all our gyms because a cure had been found. If that happened I couldn’t be happier about having failed business!

What has been your greatest achievement since leaving Pius in 1993?

My Faith has grown and I have taught RCIA in 4 different parishes now as we have moved around. My greatest accomplishment is bringing those people to the Catholic Church.

When not working, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing?

Boxing, Skiing, Hiking and Running

What memories do you have of Pius X High School?

HA! So many! Mostly it is the life long friends that I made there and still keep in regular contact with even though I live far away. Building friendships that include faith, I believe allows for deeper friendships. I especially remember with fondness the great time I had participating in the plays and musicals.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

None of this would be possible without my wife!