Local boxing champion shares her fight with her mental health

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Bonnie Mann is a three-time world champion boxer. She will officially be inducted into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame in August. However, one of her greatest fights has been with her own mental health.

Mann currently works at Jim’s Gym in Elmira as the general manager and personal trainer.

In her 8-year professional boxing career, she fought in 22 bouts. One fight in 2002 was against a young Holly Holm. Holm later moved on to the UFC to become the Women’s Bantamweight Champion after infamously knocking out Ronda Rousey.

Bonnie with two of her championship belts

However, Mann’s toughest fight was not against another human being, but with her own mind. She explained how working out has helped with her mental health.

“I’ve been into personal training for about 30 years now and I was fortunate to become a professional athlete,” said Mann. “I can say with all the struggles I’ve had throughout my life, if it weren’t for exercise or some form of exercise, even if it was walking, that has really helped me with a lot of mental health situations that I’ve had over the decades.”

For Mann, working out has been a form of therapy.

“To me, the best thing that people could do, especially for their mental health, is get a little bit of exercise in,” said Mann. “Even if it’s simply walking 10 to 15 minutes a day, four or five times a week, just to do something. To me, it’s very important. It’s literally saved my life in the past and I’ve watched it save other people’s lives in the past.”

Bonnie’s client, Thia Popkin, came to Jim’s Gym to help ease her mind while getting a workout session in with the former boxer. As a registered nurse, Popkin agrees with Mann.

“With the COVID pandemic and everything that’s been going on, [there has been a lot of] anxiety and depression and mental health [struggles],” said Popkin. “It has affected the public and people so greatly that boxing, or any physical activity that we can get, helps induce so many positive things inside the body. For people in general, it helps release so many positive things inside of us that we don’t even recognize are going on.”

In her spare time, Mann is also a motivational speaker. She shares one piece of advice every time she is in front of a crowd.

“I’ve gone to places where it’s been two or three people to 5,000 people,” said Mann. “The biggest thing I say is, you never know what someone else’s story is, and my hard is no different than anyone else’s hard. It’s still hard.”

Kindness and empathy go a long way.

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