Former boxer determined to walk again following paralysis

Street Stories

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Gary “Tiger” Balletto was a tough guy in the ring, and he is still just as tough.

The former boxing champ still sweats through six workouts a week, on equipment that allows him to punish his arms and legs.

For five years, he’s been pedaling what is one of only a few bikes in the gym that stimulate paralyzed muscles to make them move.

“The good thing is, I have the most sexiest pair of paralyzed legs in America because of it,” Balletto said. “I’ve been voted.”

Balletto was 31 and 3 in the ring when he was a boxer, but ever since a backyard accident left him paralyzed in 2013 from the chest down, he’s faced other fights.

His decision to work and keep his three businesses thriving, instead of accepting permanently disability showed him what insurance won’t cover even if you’re paralyzed.

That is one reason Balletto’s Foundation is raising money and chasing grants to buy more equipment that can be used to fight paralysis.

He hopes to create a more affordable, YMCA adaptive gym in Cranston and possible across the country, which will be aimed at helping those who are paralyzed ready for the day they dream about.

When asked if he believes he will be able to walk again, Balletto only had one answer.

“I’m not going to give up on that, for sure,” Balletto said. “But at the same time I’m living a great life to be honest with you. Just the way I am now. So anything else is just a plus.”

Balletto hopes to have the adaptive gym up and running by the summer.

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