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Champion Forever… Up Close and Personal with Former WBA Heavyweight Champion Greg Page

Exclusive Interview by “Bad” Brad Berkwitt (Copyright Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime, 2002)

Remember these words,”MANDATORY RETIREMENT FUND”? I have been calling for one for the last four years that would include medical coverage for all fighters. If boxing had one, would I be doing an article to help draw attention to the plight of former WBA Heavyweight Champion, Greg Page?

Yes, I would be interviewing him, but it would it have to start out on a sad note. Reality is, there is sadness in this story, but much cheer as well. On December 1, 1984 in Sun City, South Africa, Page cemented his place in boxing history by dethroning then WBA Heavyweight Champion Gerrie Coetzee, via an eighth round knockout.

Page would lose his title in his first defense against Tony Tubbs via a 15 round decision. He would go on to fight for several years, but he would not find the same successes as he did earlier in his career. However, his dream of becoming a top contender and challenging for another world title would not go away. This dream would lead to tragedy when, on March 9, 2001, Page would face journeyman, Dale Crowe in a fight that was staged in Erlanger, Kentucky.

In this fight, which would be Page’s last, he was knocked out in the tenth round. Page was carried from the ring and slipped into a coma, shortly after. There was much speculation on that night whether Page should have even been cleared to fight.

We may never know the answer to him being cleared to fight, but I feel that if a mandatory retirement fund were in place, it may have deterred Page from coming back, like so many other fighters before him have done. As I said earlier, there is sadness in this story, but rather than leave you on a sad note, just remember, Page was a champion in the ring, and currently, he is fighting like a champion out of the ring to gain as much normalcy in his life as he can.

BB: First of all, how are things going with your rehabilitation since you were injured in the ring?

My recovery has been one day at a time. I don’t remember a whole lot about it. I have seen video footage of me in therapy almost 2 months after I was injured. I could hardly sit up by myself. They had to sit me in a reclining wheelchair with special made straps to keep me from falling over

BB: Has the Kentucky boxing commission done anything to assist you in offsetting your medical bills?

I have not heard a word from anyone of the Kentucky Athletic Commission. That is disappointing, because I trusted Jack Kerns. I took him to be a man of his word. Yet, not one of
them has called and asked about me, sent a card or anything. I have read and heard that they supposedly have an active investigation going on regarding the events that night. I don’t know. What I do know is this, and can say it freely, is that no one has contacted me, any of my corner people, my wife or anybody else as far as I know who was at the fight, or part of the fight. How can they “actively investigate” yet never talk to anyone who was there?

BB: Is there any truth to the rumor that you should have not been cleared to fight, yet you still were allowed to get in the ring?

I felt like I was very capable of fighting, obviously, or I would not have been in there, in the ring. I have heard that people have been accused of talking me into fighting. To them, I can only say, at that point in my life, no one was making decisions about Greg Page’s career, but Greg Page. I want to make that clear – no one, not Patty, not my trainer nobody, but me. The fight details were given to me, and based on my conversations and promises from Jack Kerns, I took the fight.

Should I have been fighting? I felt like I was ready. Yes, I truly believed that fighting Dale Crowe was an opportunity. I thought it would be a stepping-stone to bigger and better things; a shot at a heavyweight title again. I also know that the commissioner talked to me and one of my friends who helped negotiate the fight and about making Louisville a big name in boxing once again. We talked about having televised fights in Louisville again.

BB: I have been a vocal supporter of a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers and along with it, medical insurance. First of all, do you support one and, if there was one in place that you had money coming in from, that you paid into during the 22 years you fought up to the Crowe fight, would you have still stepped into the ring at the age of 42?

First of all, I do not believe in a mandatory retirement age. They don’t have it in basketball, baseball or football to name a few sports. People are different. Their bodies age differently. I do however, believe in boxing reform. Boxing needs to be safer. That is what I want to see. Not mandatory retirement based on age. What I mean is if a fighter is 40 and is still physically fit, can pass strict, unbiased physicals, then I feel like he should still be able to fight. I do support setting up a pension fund system and also mandatory medical insurance for boxers. The promoters, the managers and sometimes the trainers make all the money and the fighter has to get what’s left.

Some system should be included in boxing reform if it is going to be a true reform that will make boxing safer and protect the fighters, and that has to include pension plans, insurance, as well as, tougher nationwide regulations!

As far as, would I have still fought? Yes, I had been training hard and was ready to fight. I wanted a shot at the championship. I was raised in Kentucky; what would be more appropriate than for me to be the Heavyweight Champion of Kentucky?

BB: For other boxing families that don’t have the marquee name of Greg Page, but tragically have to deal with a ring injury of their loved one, what are your words of wisdom to them in dealing with everything you have, to this point?

I have to tell them to trust in the Lord. God alone has brought me this far. You never know what you have in store for you, what is in God’s plan for you. Early on in my career, I didn’t care about the business end of things. I just went out and boxed. I had people around me that I thought had my back, but they were making bad choices that ended up as bad choices for me. I let my family run things for me and I ended up bankrupt.

Then I moved out to Vegas and let other people take care of things for me, who may or may not have had my best interest at heart. When you are down as far as you can go, God will lift you up. HE knows what you need and will put you with the people that you need to be with, when you need to be with them. A year before I was hurt, God reunited me with an old high school friend. We both had gone through painful divorces and we started seeing each other. After I got hurt, people tried to make choices for me that I would never have made for myself, if I had not been comatose. Patty carried all of my troubles on her shoulders and stood up for me. God put her with me because HE knew what I would be going through and knew I would need someone strong to stand up for me.

BB: As a young man, I remember a very exciting fight you had on the undercard of the WBC Heavyweight Championship between Champion Larry Holmes and top contender Randall “Tex” Cobb. You faced then top contender James “Quick” Tillis. If I remember correctly, you came off the canvas early to stop him in the eighth round for the United States Boxing Association (USBA) Heavyweight Title. What are your recollections of that fight?

Man you are good. You know your boxing. You dug way back to get that one! I went into that fight knowing I could beat him and I just couldn’t believe that he knocked me down. He was a fast fighter, living up to his nickname “Quick”. A hard puncher, not the hardest puncher I had faced. In case you are wondering that probably was “Razor” Ruddock.

BB: Early in your career, there were constant comparisons to you being the next Muhammad Ali. Did that put a lot of stress on you to attempt to fight at his level?

It put a lot of pressure on me. First, I was too young to have that kind of pressure put on me. You know that being from the same town, the same high school, you know. Nobody could fight like Muhammad, but Muhammad. I told people to let me fight and be me. Each fighter should have his own style, maybe they are similar to each other, like Ali’s rope-a-dope or the Ali shuffle, you know a little of this or a little of that and it becomes your own style. I had my own style, especially early on. Kind of like my shaking of my shoulders.

BB: Early in your career you fought many top contenders, beating most of them. Do you feel the level of competition in your earlier career, by far exceeds today’s heavyweight contenders?

When I was coming up, fighters had skill and style. Today, it seems like they are all about brute force, knocking you out as fast as they can with no style or finesse. Some of them go
on intimidation factors.

BB: On December 1, 1984, you reached the pinnacle of your career when you dethroned then WBA Heavyweight Champion, Gerrie Coetzee knocking him out in the eighth round. What are your recollections of that magical evening?

Like that R. Kelly song, “I Believe I Can Fly”. It was the most tremendous feeling in the world. Man it was great! To go to another man’s country, his homeland, being the underdog, like I was. People told me that I’d never win, and amount to anything. Even Don King thought that I would lose, but I knew I would win. It was a tough fight, but I went up in that man’s backyard and took his belt from him. I fought a good fight and it felt great to watch him fall. I didn’t care much about South Africa. I caught a lot of stuff for going over there. Nobody else would, so I did. Besides those dagole’ baboons used to run after me when I was doing my running over there. I was glad to get back home.

BB: Who do you feel was your toughest opponent in your career and why?

Believe it or not it was George Chaplin. His head was so small it was hard to hit. He head butted me a lot. He did a lot of crazy jumping around. The most fun I had at a fight other than beating Coetzee was when I fought Scott LeDoux in the Bahamas. I danced around and made fun of him before I finished him off. I trained hard for that fight and he took me lightly. Then I got in trouble with my mom for the way I acted at that fight. She said “I acted like a fool.”

BB: Were there any big fights in your career that were close to being signed or signed that fell out?

I signed a contract (while we were in Canada,) to fight Tyson but, because of Don King, that fell through. Larry Holmes refused to fight me. They stripped him of the belt and then they created the IBF so Larry could have a belt. I called him a “chicken livered coward”. I still think he was.

BB: Who are your three favorite fighters of all-time and why?

Muhammad Ali- He has a fantastic jab and very fast hands. Muhammad is poetry in motion. He was just great to watch. I have to admit, I patterned myself after his style, somewhat. He was just real graceful.

Joe Louis- He had a good jab too. He was also very talented and fun to watch.

Sugar Ray Robinson- He was fast, flurrying his punches. I wanted to copy that fast punching jabbing he always would do.

Jersey Joe Walcott- His great footwork and his great moves. Okay, so that was four. Sorry!!

BB: What is the greatest fight you have ever seen and why?

That would have to be when my friend, Aaron Pryor fought Alexis Arguello the first time in 1982. Pryor had great stamina and Arguello had graceful style. Pryor was straight up tricky in that fight – he was there, then he wasn’t, and he popped up somewhere else. It was an awesome fight to see. I can still picture it in my mind.

BB: Now that you are retired from boxing, how would you like your fans to remember you?

As a fast punching heavyweight who had a great heart. I fought hard, and I hope I am remembered as a nice guy! I would like to think that I gave my fans some exciting fights during my career and that they enjoyed watching me fight! I also helped a lot of people along the way.

BB: Finally, what is the saying, if you have one that you live your life by?

“Believe in the knockout power of the Lord.”

This was designed for me and it was on the back of my robe as I entered the ring for the last time as a fighter. The Lord has been with me every step of the way!!

Greg would like to add the following to our interview:

This past year has been very tough on me mentally and physically. I will never be the same Greg Page again. My daily memory is not great, but old stuff is still all there. I say things and then I forget and repeat myself. Sometimes I say things that I wish I hadn’t, but Patty reminds me that I had a very severe brain injury and that I can’t help it sometimes.

In the past year, besides being critically injured, I went through a terrible divorce and lost absolutely everything. I had a house that was almost paid for and everything, and they gave it to my ex-wife. Yet, I can’t be bitter. At least I know my girls have a home. And besides, God let me live. I am poor, but I am alive!

I am still learning to be faithful to God’s word, but I’m just a man and I fall sometimes. Sometimes I worry about what the future will bring. I’m broke and I just found out that the house that we have rented for the past 2 years will have to be sold because the partners are splitting up the assets. I don’t have credit to buy it and I get scared sometimes cause I don’t want to be homeless, but then I remember that God will provide for me. I get cards and letters from fans all around every now and then, and I do enjoy that and I hope that they keep on sending them.

My address is:

Greg Page
208 W. Kenwood Way
Louisville, KY 40214

When you are down and out, you find out who really cares for you. I got married in October of last year to a woman, who is tough, but she loves me for me and we started out as very good friends. She is, has, and always will be there for me. She loves me as I am broke, and crazy as a roach! I don’t guess that it can get much better than that.

(Interviewer’s closing thoughts: Sadly, Greg Page passed away at the age of 50 on April 27, 2009. I left his address in the interview because it was on actual interview in my book. RIP Greg…

Greg Page
Division: Heavyweight
Professional Record: 58-17, 1 48 KO’s

– 1979 –
+ (Feb-16-1979, Louisville) Don Martin kot 2
+ (Jun-1-1979, Louisville) Jerry Mc Intyre ko 1
+ (Aug-19-1979, Bloomington) James Knox ko 2
+ (Sep-22-1979, Los Angeles) Oliver Philipps ko 4
+ (Oct-18-1979, Philadelphia) Frankie Brown ko 3
+ (Nov-24-1979, Bloomington) James Reid ko 1
+ (Dec-14-1979, Atlantic City) Ira Martin kot 1

– 1980 –
+ (Feb-1-1980, Louisville) Victor Rodriguez ko 1
+ (Mar-8-1980, Las Vegas) Claman Parker ko 1
+ (Apr-5-1980, Louisville) George Chaplin10
+ (May-16-1980, Lexington) Larry Alexander ko 6
+ (Sep-12-1980, Louisville) Leroy Boone kot 6
+ (Oct-2-1980, New York) Dave Johnson ko 6

– 1981 –
+ (Feb-7-1981, Atlantic City) Stan Ward kot 7 (United States, Heavyweight)
+ (Apr-11-1981, Kiamesha Lake) Marty Monroe kot 6 (United States, Heavyweight)
+ (Jun-12-1981, Detroit) Alfredo Evangelista ko 2
+ (Aug-22-1981, Atlantic City) George Chaplin 12 (United States, Heavyweight)
+ (Dec-11-1981, Nassau) Scott Ledoux ko 4 (United States, Heavyweight)

– 1982 –
+ (May-2-1982, Atlantic City) Jimmy Young 12 (United States, Heavyweight)
– (Jun-11-1982, Atlantic City) Trevor Berbick 10
+ (Nov-26-1982, Houston) James Tillis kot 8 (United States, Heavyweight)

– 1983 –
+ (Feb-12-1983, Cleveland) Larry Frazier 10
+ (May-20-1983, Las Vegas) Renaldo Snipes 12 (United States, Heavyweight)
+ (Oct-15-1983, Miami Beach) Rick Kellar kot 2

– 1984 –
– (Mar-9-1984, Las Vegas)Tim Witherspoon 12 (W.B.C., Heavyweight)
– (Aug-31-1984, Las Vegas) David Bey 12 (United States, Heavyweight)
+ (Dec-1-1984, Sun City) Gerrie Coetzee ko 8 (W.B.A., Heavyweight)

– 1985 –
– (Apr-29-1985, Buffalo) Tony Tubbs 15 (W.B.A., Heavyweight)

– 1986 –
– (Jan-17-1986, Atlanta) James Douglas 10
+ (Mar-30-1986, Edmonton) Funso Banjo disq.8
– (Jun-12-1986, Los Angeles) Mark Wills kot 9
+ (Nov-22-1986, Las Vegas) Jerry Halstead ko 8

– 1987 –
+ (May-30-1987, Las Vegas) James Broad 10
– (Jul-24-1987, Sydney) Joe Bugner 10

– 1988: inactive –

– 1989 –
+ (Mar-24-1989, Louisville) David Mauney ko 1
– (Apr-25-1989, Las Vegas) Orlin Norris 12 (North America, Heavyweight)
+ (May-12-1989, Struthers) Harry Terrell kot 2
+ (Jul-21-1989, Atlantic City) Charles Woolard ko 2

– 1990 –
+ (Mar-17-1990, Las Vegas) Mathias Fleming kot 1
– (May-19-1990, Las Vegas) Mark Wills kot 6

– 1991 –
+ (Mar-19-1991, Las Vegas) Mark Young kot 3
+ (Jun-8-1991, Saint-Louis) Fred Whittaker ko 2
+ (Nov-29-1991, Las Vegas) Joey Christjohn kot 1

– 1992 –
– (Feb-15-1992, Las Vegas) Donovan Razor Ruddock kot 8
+ (Jun-26-1992, Cleveland) James Smith 10
– (Sep-12-1992, Las Vegas) Francisco Damiani 10
+ (Dec-13-1992, Las Vegas) Kevin P. Porter kot 8

– 1993 –

+ (Jan-30-1993, Memphis) Dan Murphy kot 3
+ (May-7-1993, Las Vegas) Mike Faulkner kot 8
– (Aug-6-1993, Bayamon) Bruce Seldon kot 9

– 1994-1995: inactive –

– 1996 –
+ (May-16-1996, Virginia Beach) Robert Jackson kot 1
+ (Jun-12-1996, Raleigh) James Birch Smith kot 1
+ (Jun-15-1996, Wentworth) Tyrone Miles ko 1
+ (Jul-23-1996, Chesapeake) Frankie Hines kot 1

– 1997 –
+ (May-20-1997, Nashville) Armando Furrubiartes ko 1
+ (Jun-10-1997, Nashville) Joe Barnes kot 1
+ (Jun-17-1997, Nashville) Frankie Hines ko 1
+ (Jun-24-1997, Nashville) Wes Black kot 1
+ (Aug-24-1997, Nashville) Robert Boykin ko 1
+ (Sep-9-1997, Nashville) Moses Harris kot 3
+ (Sep-23-1997, Nashville) Nate Jones ko 1
+ (Dec-2-1997, Nashville) James Holly kot 1
+ (Dec-9-1997, Nashville) Harry Daniels 4
+ (Dec-16-1997, Nashville) Kenneth Bentley kot 1

– 1998 –
= (Jan-31-1998, Tampa) Jerry Ballard 10
+ (Mar-27-1998, Atlantic City) Marion Wilson 8
+ (May-19-1998, Nashville) George Harris kot 1
– (Oct-23-1998, Atlantic City) Monte Barrett 10

– 1999 –
+ (Mar-27-1999, Gary) Harry Daniels ko 2
– (Apr-1-1999, Worley) Artis Pendergrass 10
+ (Jun-18-1999, Fayetteville) Tim Witherspoon retiring 8
– (Nov-14-1999, Portland) Jorge Louis Gonzalez 10

– 2000 –
+ (Feb-9-2000, Rosemont) Terrance Lewis ko 7
– (Jun-29-2000, New York) Robert Davis kot 8
+ (Oct-9-2000, Louisville) Mark Bradley kot 1

– 2001 –
(Mar-9-2001, Erlanger) Dale Crowe ko 10

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