Leoncello Boxing gym owner looks to help addicts, kids through fitness – Taunton Daily Gazette

RAYNHAM — The road to recovery can lead to unexpected places.
For Chad Leoncello, a Brockton native and West Bridgewater resident, that road led to the boxing gym, and boxing, Leoncello says, played a crucial part in his recovery.
“I’m in recovery, so I’ve been sober six years, and I’ve found boxing in my recovery. And that was the way I channeled my emotions and learned how to cope,” Leoncello said.
“I went through a bad divorce, almost to the point of losing custody of my son, and boxing is what really channeled me into the right road.”
Unfortunately, Leoncello had to learn the hard way, left with a court-ordered ultimatum to clean up or risk losing custody of his 9-year-old son, Carlo. He faced the challenge of staying sober for three days in order to be cleared for a planned trip to visit Carlo in Florida.
He did not know where to turn, what to do.  
He made a call to KO Gym in New Bedford.
It was the right call.
“I Googled this boxing gym down in New Bedford, I walked in there and I told him the situation,” Leoncello said, recalling the fateful day. “He gave me a really good workout and I went home and slept and that was day one without drinking. 
“Same thing happened day two: I went back to the gym, worked out for two hours, went home, didn’t drink, fell asleep, hopped a plane. And when I saw my son it was like the light switch, it was just enough clarity where I knew what I needed to do. I never went back.”
He credits boxing for the save.  
“It’s magic, man, it’s magic.”
Three years ago Leoncello met his current girlfriend and business partner, Brieanna Resendes, and Leoncello Boxing got its start, with its namesake offering boxing lessons and training, and looking to determine if his recovery-through-boxing experience might prove useful to others who have struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.
“We started small, going to different gyms. But I really wanted a place where we could help anybody we could. You know, because I know it helped me, so I wanted to make sure that if it did work for me it was going to work with someone else.” 
In January, Leoncello and Resendes established a new training space at 1776 Broadway in Raynham where they offer boxing instruction and training for kids and adults, circuit training and personal training.
Resendes was a runner before boxing.  
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“Boxing kind of triggers a thing you, kind of like, you’ve never experienced anywhere else,” she said. “And it’s a great workout. I was a runner before I took this on, and it’s still not the same, the feeling you get when you’re done.
“It is the most magical thing, boxing. It’s like, it’s a great way to get rid of just all the stress and all that. I mean, we live in a world that’s just so like fast paced and there’s just no time to let it out. And that’s really one of our big things here, just let it out. Come in, let out all your stress and then just keep going.”
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“Our main focus now is kids, prevention and teaching coping skills with boxing,” Leoncello said.  
For kids, the goal is to learn a new skill, build confidence and let off some steam. Leoncello says a lot of what he learned in recovery and through boxing applies to any one at any age looking for any level of self help or self improvement.
New students will experience of blast of conditioning no boxer can do without, learn very specific and ordered punching combinations and face down the intimidation of a face-to-face encounter with an opponent or aggressor, like Leoncello, who is known to gear up in protective padding and encourage young students to hit him and hit him hard.
“So they can have a release, you know, in a healthy way, in a world that’s kind of chaotic,” Resendes said. “It gives them a sense of belonging, even if they don’t feel like they belong anywhere.”  
 “Our doors are always open to anybody,” Leoncello said. “I don’t want to say I see the potential, but I see the struggle in them, and I know I can be a part of their journey and help a little bit.”
Boxing might not be the right fit for everyone, but Leoncello says Leoncello Boxing is there and willing to work with anyone who wants to give it a shot.    
“I’m a little hard on the kids, but it’s what I’m for. It’s a tough sport. I think it’s kind of a soft world now and I’m trying to toughen these kids up a little bit.”  
Resendes said her own son David, 12, who is not a fan of team sports and struggles with ADHD, gained a big boost in confidence after some time in the gym
“Here it’s you against you, you know. You do the work,” she said.
Leoncello, who formerly made his living as a mortgage broker, now 38, also fights professionally. And he’s scheduled for a bout Aug. 13 at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, home of the Brockton Rox minor league baseball team.
“I’ve got two more years to fight professionally,” he said. “My goal with fighting is to show these kids, and people in early recovery, that this guy’s still doing it, and you can do it.  
“Also, to get my son back up here to see me fight. I want him to see me in the ring at least once, you know, and then I’ll be done.”
Taunton Daily Gazette staff writer Jon Haglof can be reached at jhaglof@tauntongazette.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Taunton Daily Gazette today.


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