Champion of My Own World

Despite challenges, boxing coach Josh "Rocky" Mata still manages to follow his passions and inspire others along the way

The Story of Josh Mata
Josh Mata has grown up dealing with cerebral palsy, a genetic disorder that affects his ability to move and maintain balance/posture. Yet, despite having to deal with cerebral palsy his entire life, Mata works to inspire others each day by coaching an extremely physical sport; boxing. Mata, who goes by the nickname ‘Rocky,’ has spent pretty much his entire life learning the ins and outs of boxing, and now coaches students of all ages at the Wildcat Boxing Gym in Franklin, Ky. When he isn't coaching, Mata works as an online mental health therapist, seeking to help others deal with their hard times.

Because of the challenges I've had, I can help other people, differently abled or not
— Josh Mata
Josh Mata has always had a passion for both boxing and helping others. Today, Mata follows both his passions, working as both a boxing coach as well as a mental health therapist.
Despite the lack of mobility in his body, and being forced to use a wheelchair to go from place to place, Mata still takes every chance he can get to the Wildcat Boxing Gym in Franklin, Ky., to teach others how to become better boxers.

Before all of this, Mata usually starts his mornings helping others mentally, rather than physically. After earning a bachelors degree in education from Western Kentucky University in 2014, Mata went on to earn his masters degree in organizational leadership from the University of the Cumberlands. "I had this goal of wanting to help other differently abled individuals pursue a college education," Mata said. "Because I believe everybody has an equal right to education despite whatever challenges they may have." He now works as an online mental health therapist, where he spends hours each morning chatting to others online, listening to their problems, and often giving them advice on what they can do to better deal with their issues.

Even though Mata has dealt with significant hardships in his past, not including his struggles with cerebral palsy, Mata maintains a positive attitude. Instead of sulking over his struggles, he works each day to bring light into others’ lives and help those who have trouble getting over their struggles.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Despite having had cerebral palsy (CP) his entire life, Mata has not let it stop him from living a fulfilled life. "Having CP allows me to come from a different place of compassion compared to others who might not be in the same situation as me."
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological condition that affects movement and posture. It is caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain, typically before or during birth, but sometimes shortly after birth.

CP can affect muscle control, coordination, and balance, leading to difficulties with movement, posture, and balance. It can also affect speech, vision, hearing, and cognitive function.

There are several different types of CP, including spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed. The severity of the condition can vary widely, ranging from mild, where a person may have only slight difficulties with movement, to severe, where a person may require significant assistance with daily living activities.

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition, but with appropriate treatment and therapy, many people with CP can lead full and fulfilling lives. Treatment may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medication to manage symptoms such as muscle stiffness or seizures.
Disability and Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.3 billion people - or 1 in 6 people worldwide - experience significant disability ( However, according to, people with disabilities “remain invisible in the workplace” (

There is a significant lack of cases in which persons with disabilities are able to hold positions of leadership, meaning a lack of leaders with disabilities who can inspire others with disabilities.

Josh Mata, however, has become more than a leader, teaching one of the most physical sports despite having a very physically-restraining disability, and helping others through mental health therapy.

Mental health issues are prevalent worldwide, affecting people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.

As someone who has struggled with mental health in his past, Mata works as a mental health therapist with the hope of helping other people overcome their mental challenges.
You're not alone. I'll be here with you. I can't go out and fight for you, but I can help give you tools that'll make your fight easier.
— Josh Mata