An Illinois college student is using boxing to battle Tourette’s syndrome.
J.P. D’Amico has been struggling with the disorder his whole life. “I’ve had vocal tics, I’ve had slight eye movements,” he told HLN affiliate CBS 2 in Chicago. “Huge twitches, where I pop my arm out really fast and hard.”
Now, the 20-year-old is fighting back against the disease that has taken over his body. He started boxing just over a year ago and is currently 4-1 in his weight class, according to the affiliate. D’Amico’s proud of himself for tackling such a challenging sport, but what he likes most is finally being in control.
“It gives you control over it, rather than it having control over you,” he said.
And yes, because of the sport, D’Amico says he’s experiencing fewer tics. “It channels all that extra stress, all that extra energy and emotion that kind of makes those tics happen,” he said. He even adds that whenever he’s boxing, the ticks go away altogether.
All those jabs and upper cuts have helped D’Amico overcome the emotional distresses that come with Tourette’s syndrome as well. He tells CBS 2 that he was always bullied as a child because of his tics, so boxing has helped him heal emotionally.
His mom couldn’t be more proud. “I, in my wildest dreams, would never have thought that he would be capable of boxing,” MK Maloney told the affiliate.
Now that he’s got a handle on his own disorder, D’Amico wants to help others struggling with Tourette’s. Every year, he volunteers at a camp, working with kids to overcome the condition, and has started his own foundation.
“My goal is to make sure that every single child who has Tourette’s and went through the stuff that I went through … can jump back up and really come out even stronger than they were before,” D’Amico said.