(OAKLAND, CALIF.) - Super middleweight champion Andre Ward (Oakland, Calif.) hit an important milestone in his recovery from shoulder surgery yesterday, making his return to his boxing gym. Ward has been doing intensive physical therapy three times a week to get his shoulder back in to fighting shape, and he is happy with his progress and thrilled to get back in to the gym.
"It was amazing to be able to say that I was going to a boxing gym and not physical therapy. I just have to respect the markers I've been given from the doctor; I couldn't go crazy. That's where I have to be careful," Ward said. "I felt great, I felt fast, and my wind felt great. It was an amazing feeling to be able to work out in my gym."
Ward received clearance from his physical therapist and his doctor to return to the boxing gym and start shadowboxing and cardio exercise on Thursday. "I definitely had to hold myself back. I could throw my right arm but I can't over do it. Each week I can do more and more, but I have to respect the markers that my doctor set. In next couple months, I'll be cleared to do everything, but for now I have to respect the boundaries that are in place."
Ward's promoter, Dan Goossen is extremely pleased with the pace of his recovery progress. "It's unbelievable the progress Andre has made in the period of time since the surgery," Goossen said. "Seeing him working out in the boxing gym is just the next step toward the recovery process."
Staying away from the boxing gym has certainly been a challenge for Ward, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist known for his intense work ethic. "For somebody like me that competes at a world-class level, it can be frustrating at times to not be able to do what I love to do, which is to box. But all of these things that you go through make you who you are," Ward said. "This is just something else that I have to persevere through and it will help me become the person I'm supposed to be. These injuries and setbacks are something that every top athlete has to overcome."
Ward recently celebrated his 29th birthday, and he is determined to return to the ring better than ever. "A lot of times people just focus on the high times, I want to take this low time and make it work for me. I want to show my fans that I'm focused and that I'm still working," said Ward. "Whenever we get the opportunity to step in to the ring for the first time, they're going to see what I've been doing on my down time. I'm still focused and I'm still grinding."