78 www.MPMcalendar.com | www.BestOfMP.com | www.ILoveMountPleasant.com feature B oxing is often called “the sweet science” – a sport that requires mental and physical fortitude, discipline and the power to step away when the timing is right. Boxers must be present, forward thinking and tactical in their command of the ring. It’s a sport of survival, and one that Think Boxing founders Beth Matenaer and Jason Scalzo believe can transition beyond the ring and into the lives of children and adults who’ve experienced their own opponents in life. The Think Boxing program is a non-contact curriculum that teaches the fundamentals of boxing – the patterns of movement, the discipline, the mental awareness – to help heal and empower those struggling with trauma, depression, addiction and other mental health challenges. Matenaer is no stranger to out-of-the-box therapy techniques. As a trauma therapist, she has worked with adults and kids in complicated healing situations for over 25 years. From her office in Mount Pleasant, she practices animal-assisted therapy, is trained as an equine therapist and applies experiential approaches to psychotherapy to address mental health issues. “I feel really passionate about wanting mental health to be a conversation we’re having outside of the office,” shared Matenaer. “A different approach can really have a huge impact.” A first-time boxing lesson with coach and entrepreneur Scalzo created the perfect opportunity to take the practice of healing beyond the office walls. “I’m a product of what I believe is so important about boxing,” shared Scalzo, “I believe it can change lives, and I believe it can save people. But it wasn’t until Beth explained the physiology, what actually happens to the brain through these pathways of motion, that it really clicked.” Scalzo is founder and executive director of Boxing is Love, an organization that uses boxing to help children overcome social epidemics. With a degree in psychology, he has trained in and coached boxing and taekwondo for 30 years. Leaving behind a 12-year career in medical technology, Scalzo traveled to West Africa to begin Boxing is Love, working to rehabilitate childhood soldiers in Liberia. When he returned to South Carolina, Scalzo gave Matenaer that first boxing lesson and a powerful collaboration took shape. BY JEN GLEKAS Think Boxing Teaching the Power to Heal FromWithin The mental benefits of boxing can help people of all ages. Photos provided.