SOUTHWEST HARBOR — You’d never know it now by his kinetic energy, but Kevin Threadgold once lacked confidence.
Boxing helped pull him out of that.
“I was a really shy kid. I was never bullied, but I was so timid,” said the 63-year-old. “I learned to fight in my late 20s, and after that, I wasn’t scared of anything.”
The boxer is now offering his love and knowledge of the sport to the community by teaching a boxing class at Harbor House in Southwest Harbor.
Last month, Threadgold taught a successful three-class session and now wants to open up the experience to even more people.
Threadgold said the sport’s appeal is that it is accessible to anyone who can strap on a pair of gloves.
Boxing has traditionally been considered a “poor man’s sport” offered in inner cities. The sport once had a presence in Maine but died because there was no boxing commission in the state.
While there are few boxing gyms in the state, aspects of the sport have been incorporated into fitness classes around the country.
One obvious benefit of boxing is what it can do physically. It is a total body workout with both cardio and strength training aspects.
According to the American Council on Exercise, the sport can burn up to 13 calories per minute or 200-400 calories every 30 minutes.
Boxing is considered a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise, which researchers say can be more beneficial than traditional aerobic exercise such as running, cycling or rowing.
The American College of Sports Medicine reports that HIIT workouts can burn more calories than traditional cardio or weight training and have shown to improve blood pressure, cardiovascular health, abdominal fat and body weight.
Threadgold said the benefits of boxing go beyond physical and into the mental.
“It’s a martial art, which is something that gets lost, not unlike kung-fu,” he said. “But there is little spiritual interest here in the west, so that aspect gets lost, but you can look at [boxing] as a path to personal enlightenment.”
The sport also can strengthen one’s self-assurance.
“The confidence it gives you – it’s just amazing to see someone who has maybe been a little timid, a little shy, and to see them come into the gym for the first time, and then three to six months later, they are the same person but transformed into a confident person,” said Threadgold.
While this is the first time he has offered official classes, he has trained people as a hobby.
“I’ve never offered structured classes, and the structure is really just based on implementations I’ve cherry-picked through gyms I’ve been to,” said Threadgold.
He has been to Thailand three times to attend a live-in boxing camp in which residents spar with professional fighters.
“I’ve sort of made it a hobby of mine to go gym to gym and see how different people train,” he said. “I’ve never been interested in taking a fight, but it’s such a fascinating culture.”
Threadgold moved to Southwest Harbor years ago after retiring from working as a deckhand at Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution for 10 years.
Prior to that, his career as a merchant seaman is what introduced him to the sport.
“In the beginning, I was really just looking for a workout, but I got hooked,” he said.
Following the three-class session in November, Threadgold will continue to teach a weekly course at Harbor House.
The class will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and is suitable for all skill levels. There is only one catch: the class is free.
“I’d much rather see a room full of happy people learning how to box than dealing with small classes,” said Threadgold. “I’d rather just give this stuff away than sell it. I don’t want anyone to say I don’t have the money right now for boxing.”
Harbor House officials say they want to offer Threadgold’s boxing class regularly.
“Kevin wants to keep it very basic and kind of, as he said, ‘old school,’” said Diana Novella, Harbor House’s events and community relations director. “He wants to do it in the style of Gleason’s Gym [in Brooklyn, N.Y.] and a lot of the older boxing gyms. They would have 50 cents thrown into a bucket, and that’s what Kevin wants, to have it be very accessible to everyone.”