Folks, I’ve been a boxing fan since I was eight years old. At that time I idolized Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali. In the mid-70’s, I remember hearing about a young “up and comer” named Greg Page. Page attended the same high school as Ali and had developed a similar boxing style. He was so talented as a youngster that he sparred with Muhammad Ali when he was just 15 years old. Brash, flashy and exciting, Greg Page was billed as the heir apparent to Ali and the next “big thing” in the heavyweight division of boxing.
As time passed, Page rose steadily in the ranks of the boxing world, eventually becoming one of its heavyweight champions. There were, however, a number of boxing pundits who felt that Page never lived up to the lofty expectation that he might be the next Muhammad Ali. Although Page was consistently criticized for being an underachiever, I always thought some of that criticism was unfair. There is only one Muhammad Ali. I felt critics who constantly compared Page’s every move to that of Ali put an unreasonable amount of pressure on this young fighter.
As the years passed, I continued to follow the sport and watched boxer after boxer fight past his prime. I would shake my head in disgust watching boxers who had no business being in the ring. And the list of such boxers was long: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ron Lyle, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, John Mugabi, Mike Weaver, Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, Simon Brown, Mike Tyson, Leon Spinks, Terry Norris, Michael Dokes, Alexis Arguello, Ray Mancini and Aaron Pryor.
Greg Page is now a member of a haunting fraternity_the forgotten warriors of professional boxing. In March 2001, Page_at age 42 and weighing 238 pounds–stepped into the ring to fight a 24-year-old boxer named Dale Crowe. Page was making somewhat of a comeback and had been doing his full complement of road work–three or four miles a day almost every day of the week. A former heavyweight champion who had fought before royalty and the governing elite, Page on this night was fighting at Peel’s Palace in Kentucky for a mere $1500 dollars.
According to ringside observers, Page entered the ring in the robe and shoes that he had worn 16 years ago when he won the World Boxing Association heavyweight crown from Gerald Coetzee in Johannesburg ,South Africa in 1984. Page held that title for 5 months before losing to Tony Tubbs in April 1985. From August 1993 to May 1996, Page did not fight professionally. He told me that he stayed in shape and worked with other fighters.
The fight began, and Page appeared to be holding his own against the young fighter until the 10 th round. “The timekeeper smacked the mat with his hand toward the end of the fight to indicate 10 seconds were left, and that’s when I went after Greg with one last flurry,” his opponent Crowe was quoted as saying. The beginning of that flurry was a straight left flush to Page’s chin. Page’s head seemed to move forward and his body followed. Crowe then pushed Page against the ropes, and Page slid down to the mat.
According to news reports, Page’s friends at ringside said that, within 30 seconds, Page was in a different world. Longtime friend and cornerman Kelley Mays said, “His eyes were open, and yes, you could say he was conscious for a couple of minutes, but to my eye–there was nobody home. It was a deep dark glaze in his eyes. He wasn’t there, anymore.”
Little did Mays know that, on that night, Greg Page suffered traumatic brain injury and a massive stroke.
Page was in a coma for a week at Cincinnati ‘s University Hospital and then endured 13 weeks of inpatient therapy before being released. The man that doctors predicted would be a “vegetable” if he lived was instead on his way home. That was in 2001. Today, Greg Page lives with 24-hour, round-the-clock care.
As I studied that tragic fight and prepared for this interview, it became clear early on that this would be an interview that goes beyond boxing. Rather, it is a story about a man who beat the odds and lived to tell his story. And it is a story about a woman whose faith, love, and devotion are a true testament to her commitment to her man. Greg Page is not the man he was yesterday. Every day that he wakes up makes him a miracle in progress. In addition to physical therapy and rehabilitation, Page needs over 21 medications a day. The Page family is one crisis away from being homeless. Despite all of the money that he earned for himself and generated for others, Greg Page was essentially an Independent Contractor without insurance, benefits, or a pension. His wife Patricia has dedicated her life to taking care of Greg. And, fulfilling a promise she made to him when he asked her “not to let this happen to anyone,” she is an advocate working to make boxing a safer sport.
According to recent statistics, approximately 87% of all boxers will suffer a “brain injury” at some point in their career. Greg and Patricia Page want to educate all boxers and their families about the need for access to health and life insurance as well as information about money management. Greg Page was the heavyweight champion of the world, but he didn’t take advantage of such opportunities, in part because he was unaware of his options.
By now, some of you are probably wondering how a man who earned hundreds of thousands of dollars per fight would fail to recognize that he needed insurance. Well. you’re not alone. I had plenty of questions for the former champ and was able to get answers to all of them thanks to Patricia, his primary caretaker. She arranged this interview between me and the former champ. I found her to be a spiritual and courageous woman whose life was changed in an instant. And through it all, Patricia’s faith in God and her love for Greg are both moving and inspiring. Greg Page is an example of how courage and faith in God sustain a person even in the hardest of times. I hope you enjoy reading this interview with Greg and Patricia, whom he affectionately calls “Patty,” as much as I enjoyed conducting it.
Before I spoke with the champ, Patricia warned me that her husband “has his good days and his bad days.” As a result of his brain injury, Page experiences memory problems, irregular sleeping patterns and he tires easily. There were some days when the champ simply didn’t want to be bothered with my questions and said, “I’m not fooling with this today.” As a result, this interview had no deadline. I decided to accommodate the champ and work around his schedule.
My first interview with the champ was memorable. It was an early evening interview and the champ was well rested and in great spirits. He watches a lot of television when he’s not in rehab or therapy. He loves watching “Judge Judy”, soap operas and re-runs of Sanford and Son. Page’s recall of names and places and other facts was impressive. At one point the champ asked me if I knew Frankie Smith. I was racking my brain thinking about boxers. I finally confessed that I had no ideas who he was and the champ replied: “Double Dutch Bus.” Page loves his 80’s music and Frankie Smith recorded one of Page’s favorite songs of that era, “Double Dutch Bus.” We also talked about the about the Sugar Hill Gang and other rap and disco era groups. Page is also familiar with many of today’s popular music artists.
It should be noted that several times during the interview I had difficulty understanding what Page was trying to say. His speech was slurred but his voice was vibrant and strong. When I had trouble understanding Page, Patricia would jump in and explain what the champ said or was trying to say. Having Patricia in the room was helpful and not a distraction. She did not speak for the champion . Page understood the questions and answered them, not Patricia. There were times when I had the sense that Page’s mind was faster than his tongue when it came to responding to some of the questions.
Patricia arranged for this interview. She works a fulltime job and comes home to take care of Greg. She’s his sole caretaker in charge of medication and she works his body on the days that he doesn’t go to rehab. And through it all, her faith in God and her love for Greg is what keeps her going.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Greg and Patricia Page, who he affectionately calls “Patty,” as much as I enjoyed conducting it. –GA
Gary Johnson/BMIA.com : Greg you suffered a severe brain injury and massive stroke from an injury sustained in a “state sanctioned” professional boxing match. How has this incident changed your life?
Greg Page : There is almost nothing about my life that is the same. I am paralyzed on my entire left side. Sometimes I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast. My long term memory is pretty good (some days) but short term it is pretty rocky most of the time. I heard a while back that some of my “relatives” and “friends” back in Vegas, where I had lived for the better part of 15 years were saying I was retarded now. I AM NOT retarded. That really gets to me. They also said I was “pitiful.” I AM NOT pitiful! When I was laying in the hospital intensive care unit fighting for my life, maybe, just maybe then I was pitiful. God chose me for this test! I am a living, talking testament to God’s mercy and blessings.
BMIA.com : It seems that boxers, more than any other athlete “hang on” longer than they should in the sport. They just don’t seem to know when to quit. Greg, you had been out of the boxing game for a long time. What prompted you at the age of 42 to get back in the ring? Was it the lure of having a big payday and shot in the limelight?
Greg Page : That is one of the myths about my career. I never left boxing. There were periods that I was not actively fighting but I was still training myself and also training other fighters. Over the years I have trained many fighters. I trained Oliver McCall and was in his corner when he defeated Lennox Lewis in England. One of the women I trained, Marischa Sjauw is a five-time world champion in Europe . I trained many up and coming fighters.
After I lost to Bruce Seldon in 1993, (we were fighting for the IBF title) I was disgusted, with the fight game and myself. I didn’t have the fire in my belly to keep at it like I should. So, I retired and became Mr. Mom. My wife at that time worked for Don King and she was always gone on the road with one fighter or the other and that left our 2 girls with various friends or relatives. It was one person then the other and I didn’t like that. So I decided to come off the road and stay home with the girls, which I did for almost 3 years. I got up each morning and got them ready for school. I even fixed their hair for them. I fixed their breakfast and then I took them to school. I went and did my roadwork and went to the gym to train. After school, I picked the girls up, took them home, fixed dinner (oh yeah, I’m a real good cook) and then we did homework and watched TV till bedtime.
Then the money started getting tight and the marriage wasn’t doing too good so I decided to go back out on the road and back into the ring. At the same time I continued with training other fighters. I stayed on the road most of the time. My marriage as I said was mostly over. I went back to Vegas, where we had lived, for 15 or so years to see my girls but that was about it.
In 1997, I moved to Nashville and was training fighters to beat fighters that I knew I could beat. So I started fighting seriously. Also, I had a reconnection With God. I re-dedicated my life to him and this was the direction that I felt my spirit was leading me. When the opportunity presented itself for me to fight for the Kentucky Heavyweight Championship, I thought that it would be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. And it was, just not in the way that I thought that it would be.
One of the important things to remember about boxing is that boxing don’t take care of the fighters. There is no pension plan so unless you look forward and take care of your own retirement plan– there is none. Boxing is the only sport that I can think of that don’t take care of its own. Just like I didn’t have no insurance when this happened, the promoter didn’t have no insurance to cover me like I now know that he was supposed to have.
BMIA.com : Wow! You mentioned that your former wife used to work for boxing promoter Don King. How would you describe your relationship with Don King?
Greg Page : Don King has a way of surrounding you and becoming bigger than life to his fighters. Their families and entourage look up to him and come to depend on him. My father signed me to fight with Don King before he died. My relationship with Don was rocky and chaotic for the most part. Some of the fights that I lost, that were close fights were; I feel, because I was fighting one of Carl King’s (Don’s son) fighters or because Don and I were battling each other. It is hard to keep your mind focused on what you are supposed to be doing when there is nothing but chaos all around you. That is how it was with me. I felt like it was divide and conquer. And I could not get beyond the chaos to do my job.
When I got hurt, I heard that someone asked Don what he thought about it and Don said that he didn’t know I was still around or still fighting or something like that.
(Patricia wants to respond).
Patricia Page : Last year, I was contacted by a reporter from Max Boxing who said that she had talked to Don King about Greg and asked what he had done to help him. Supposedly he told her that he had “sent Mrs. Page some money but that obviously it wasn’t enough since she kept calling him and asking for more.” I have NEVER talked to Don King. I left several messages for him to call us but he never did. Once that reporter told me that, I wrote Don King a letter and sent it certified telling him that we had never received anything from him and telling him that if he had sent anything to Greg we never received it. It would appear, from all that I have heard that he got offended and went on the defensive. That was never my intention. I still feel like, for all of the years that Greg was involved with Don King, and obviously, Don has made money off of Greg, that the very least that he could do is to check on him. That would be the humanitarian thing to do.
Greg Page : I also received information over the past few months that one of the trainers that I had worked with had sent money to my ex-wife for me, that didn’t come to me. That’s pretty sad.
BMIA.com: Greg I estimated that during the course of your career you had earned several million dollars. Am I close? Your last fight purse was reportedly for $1500.00. Is that true?
Greg Page : By most estimates, I have been a millionaire 2 times over. In the early years, I was surrounded by my family. After my father died, my mom, uncle and oldest brother took over running things for me. All I cared about was boxing. I never paid attention to what I made or what got paid. I trusted those around me to make sure that things got done. That didn’t happen. They bankrupted me. I lost everything. I lost my farm, my condo everything. After that, my ex-wife handled everything. By the time that I realized what was going on I was bankrupt again. When I got hurt, I was due to go to Vegas to have a divorce trial to finalize things out there. That was all done while I was recovering and a lot of ugly things happened. I left 13 years of marriage with 2 beautiful daughters that I mostly raised that I am only allowed to see for 4 weeks out of the year and I have to pay the transportation costs, which is next to impossible for me. I lost one house to foreclosure and my ex-wife got the one in Vegas. I was erased from the equation just like I never existed. You know what, God don’t like ugly and he will even things out when it’s all said and done.
So I am back at the beginning, broke but not broken! I don’t have nothing but some clothes. Our house, we rent and sometimes it is bad, but God has blessed me with a great woman who loves me as I am! She has been there for me through thick and thin. God put me back with a strong woman who is a Christian like me. Regardless of what happens, I know that she is there for me and that God has my back. There’s not much more a man can ask for, is there? When we got married it was for richer or poorer—we are just mostly poor right now. Our car, I’ve had since 1999. It is a 1985 Lincoln Towncar that has almost 300,000 miles on it. It don’t look good and it got stolen and beat up last year but I got it back. See how God blesses me?
Yes my last fight’s purse was for $1500. A small sum for my life huh? There is a reason that all of this happened. I was brought down but God is bringing me back up. I honestly believed that I could be champ again. I was fighting for all of the right reasons. I wanted it. I had a new relationship with God and a woman who believed in me. My robe bore “Believe in the Knockout Power of the Lord” on the back in testament to my newly revived faith. I’m a miracle and God isn’t done with me yet.
BMIA.com: That’s a pretty bleak financial picture. Did you have insurance or savings at the time of the fight? How are you able to live and pay your bills? Do you have any sources of income?
Greg Page: My medical bills are probably in the millions by now. Each month medications cost us nearly $300. I have several medical appointments per month and that is costly. I don’t handle that stuff. Patty does. Patty and I live from paycheck to paycheck. I receive a small sum from disability (that just barely covers the rent) and Patty works full time as a medical secretary at Frazier Rehab Institute where I stayed at for over 3 months. This is tough on her cause after working 8 hours she has to come home and take care of me and my 2 stepdaughters. Some weeks we wonder if we are gonna have enough to keep the light bill paid or the phone paid. But God always comes through for us. Patty has insurance that covers some of my stuff but some things we have to pay outright.
It is tough for me to deal with sometimes, cause I can’t help like I want to. Like now, there is no money for Christmas. My stepdaughters are 10 and 11, and they say they understand, rent and food gotta come first but Kids should have Christmas though, ya know?
BMIA.com: Your outlook on life is remarkable. Has the boxing community supported you?
Greg Page : There have been a few who have come forward. Some that I never expected like Gerry Cooney, Tim Witherspoon and Larry Holmes. An old friend from back in the day, Alex “Bronx Bomber” Ramos and the Retired Boxers Foundation helped with my medications when I was first released. Muhammad Ali called awhile back. I also hear from Shelley Williams who I worked for at Prince Ranch and also former heavyweight contender Earnie Shavers. They keep in contact with me. I talk to former champion Gerald McClellan and his sister Lisa sometimes and of course, Dale Crowe. My fans still remember me and that is GREAT!
Patricia Page : I have contacted several promoters/managers in hopes that I could get a “Night At The Fights” staged with money to be raised to help Greg but they told me that they would see what they could do and would get back to me. So far I have heard nothing. What would it hurt? Greg could use the support and the financial part wouldn’t hurt either.
Greg Page : I told Patty a long time ago, I can’t make them any money anymore so they don’t care about me. It is when things are the darkest that you find out who your true friends are. Actually, some that have contacted me like Larry (Holmes) and Tim (Witherspoon), that really surprised me, blew me away.
BMIA.com : Being an athlete at the top of your game must be intoxicating. What is it like to be the heavyweight champion of the world?
Greg Page: I do have to say that without a doubt that was one of the most exciting times of my life. There is a picture that was taken back then and it looks like I am flying, like the R. Kelly song, “I Believe I Can Fly.” That day I thought I could.
One of the things that always pissed me off, was that all of the years that I boxed, trained hard, fought hard, everyone else was living high on the hog off my money. Not a single one of them lost 1 drop of sweat or took one blow, but they enjoyed the benefits of it. Now that I am down and out, how many do you think are there for me?
When I took the fight in South Africa , I was slated to lose. They already had Coetzee’s next title defense fight lined up. Ha! I threw a monkey wrench into it for all of them. I knew I was going to win so did Janks, my trainer. When I was in training there, I got chased by baboons every day when I did my roadwork. Not to mention the fact that my fighting in South Africa went against apartheid. It was not politically correct. Hell I didn’t care. I would have gone to the moon to fight and I would have fought anyone!
BMIA.com : When you emerged on the boxing scene, there were so many similarities to you and Muhammad Ali. Some boxing “experts” have analyzed your career and say that you underachieved and that you didn’t use all of your gifts to the fullest. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Greg Page : I know that people say that I underachieved. I was compared a lot with Ali and that was hard for me. Ali was and is “The Greatest” how do you follow in the footsteps of The Greatest? I believe that I was blessed with a certain amount of talent. For the most part, I feel like I worked hard. I think the bad thing for me was that I had a lot of chaos around me. The people that I trusted to handle things for me weren’t always looking out for my best interest like I thought they were. There was a lot of taking and backstabbing going on and that was a bad environment to work in. I think that my fans appreciated me and enjoyed watching me and at the end of the day that is what is really important.
BMIA.com : OK, let me come back to your career for a moment. How long had you been out of the ring before you took that last fight?
Greg Page : As I said before, I hadn’t left boxing.
Patricia Page : Greg had a fight in November of 2000 at Longhead’s in Louisville . He fought in June of 2000 in New York, against Robert Davis. Several times they have shown clips of that fight and talking about how Greg was being beat up. What they don’t say is that in the 2nd round, Greg tore up his right shoulder but continued to fight. He only had one hand to defend himself. If you check out the video footage, you can see that he is holding the right arm in close. He flew straight home and went to the hospital emergency room to have his shoulder treated. The fight that ended his career wasn’t one sided either. Ask Dale Crowe. He has told Greg that he has never been hit as hard as Greg hit him. That fight was pretty physical and tough right up to the end.
BMIA.com : This question is for you Patricia. How did you and Greg meet?
Patricia Page: Greg and I went to Ahrens High School in 1975. We hung out together at school. We got thrown out of Social Studies class more than once for talking. We got along really well. However, Greg moved over the summer and went to another school (Central) after that. In February 1979, I went to the weigh-ins and surprised him. We hung out for a couple of months after that.
Greg Page: My dad and uncle kept running her off. They didn’t want any distractions for me.
Patricia Page (Continuing): In March of 2000, something drew me to stop by Greg’s grandmother’s house. We believe that it was the hand of God. He wasn’t around but I left a note for him. It just said, “An old friend who’s just checking on ya.” I put my phone number on the note and left it at that. That afternoon, I got a phone call that started with, “Is this who I think it is?” I said, “I don’t know. Who do you think it is?” He said, “This is Patty, I recognized your writing. When can I see you?”
We made plans to see each other the next day, which we did. We spent hours talking about the old days and catching each other up on the last 15 years of our lives. We started seeing each other daily pretty much after that and we decided that God had led us together for a reason. The rest is pretty much history. We had one very good year together before Greg’s tragic injury. We got married on October 30, 2001 . Greg said that God wouldn’t continue to bless his recovery if we continued to live together without being married.
BMIA.com : Greg, your recovery has been nothing short of amazing. The initial reports that I read immediately after the injury reflected that you would either not survive or would be a “vegetable” for the rest of your life. How hard has your recovery been?
Greg Page : Honestly every day is a different challenge. Patty says the good thing is that I don’t remember most of it. I don’t remember the fight and I don’t remember much of what went on for many months. Hell sometimes I ain’t real sure about what happened yesterday.
Patricia Page : Gary I was there. I watched him go down. By the time I got around the ring to him, he was already comatose, although I did not know that then. I waited by his side for 4 weeks, waiting for him to “snap out of it”. The doctors prognosis was grim from the get go. They told me that he would be a vegetable and that the entire right side of his brain had been destroyed. They told me that he would never recover. I told his surgeons that he would be okay, because we had God in our corner. He looked at me like I was crazy.
In the intensive care units, you have limited times that you can visit. I was there at the door waiting for each and every visitation time. I would pray with Greg and over him. I played his favorite gospel music and sermons from his favorite preachers (Pastor Rod Parsley, T. D. Jakes) and I talked to him. When I looked into his eyes, even though he could not talk yet, I knew “my Greg” was in there listening to me.
Greg had a tracheotomy and was on a ventilator for most of the month of March (2001) and he had a feeding tube as well. He could not talk or move his left side at all. He didn’t start communicating (he started by writing notes) until late April and shortly thereafter he started mouthing words and then speaking. Since his left side is paralyzed, he had a hard time holding his trunk up, almost like the left side is not there. He had to learn balance all over again in order to be able to even sit up. For quite awhile, he had a wheelchair that reclined back and he had to have straps crisscrossed across his chest to hold him up.
As he started recovering, I watched as he had to learn how to do even the basic things that we take for granted like brush his teeth and comb his hair. It broke my heart but I was still so very proud of him. No matter how tough the going got, he NEVER QUIT!! He never got mad and he never blamed God. He has looked to God and thanked him for putting him through this challenge. The going has been tough for Greg but he is a true champion. He keeps on doing the things we ask him to do so that he can keep on recovering.
If it had not been for my oldest daughter Teisha, who moved back home while I was in Ohio with Greg as he struggled to recover, I do not know what we would have done. Greg needed a caregiver 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. She was my right hand. She took care of the 2 little girls at home and kept the house going as well as working full time. We were one heck of a team, the 3 of us with God leading us.
BMIA.com: Greg, I understand that no medical personnel or oxygen was present at ringside at your last fight. If emergency medical personnel had been at ringside and assuming that they would have treated you sooner, do you think the injuries would have been as severe?
Patricia Page : I was at the fight that night strictly as Greg’s girlfriend. I knew nothing about state regulations or federal regulations. I did not know what should happen or what to expect. I went there to see my man fight to give him support and to be there for him. We even planned to go to Gatlinburg after the fight was over.
Now, however, I know the regulations. I have been a guest speaker, telling Greg’s fantastic story at the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians conference in September in Las Vegas. I have studied other cases, including ones in England . I know that the Kentucky Athletic Commission (KAC) should NEVER have let the fight go on without oxygen being there, which some KAC members have admitted in sworn depositions that they were aware that there was no oxygen available and that they made a “judgment call” to proceed anyway. Also, no one bothered to check the “ringside physician’s” credentials. He was not licensed to practice in the state of Kentucky . In fact his license had been revoked in Ohio and had been re-instated with probation. He was on probation when he presided at the fight. So he should NEVER have been there anyway.
I know that if the “ringside physician” had been competent (not to mention the fact that he did not have a license to practice in Kentucky_or medical malpractice insurance) and if they had the bare minimum, oxygen available, with an ambulance close by or on standby Greg would not have been in the critical condition that he ended up in. Greg was down and fighting for his life for 45 minutes before they got him loaded up and to the hospital. In that time, his brain continued to swell and he had a massive stroke. By the time the ambulance got him loaded into the ambulance, he was in complete cardiac and respiratory arrest.
Had the doctor realized how serious Greg’s injury was, he would have gotten oxygen to him immediately and that in turn would have slowed the swelling down. If an ambulance would have been there, they would have loaded Greg up and immediately taken him to University Hospital in Cincinnati and he would have had surgery much sooner. That didn’t happen. It was close to an hour at Peel’s Palace before the ambulance got to Greg, then to St. Luke’s in Erlanger, Kentucky for 1 and 1/2 hours, so you are talking about 2 1/2 to 3 hours before Greg was taken into surgery to relieve the swelling and remove the hematoma. By that time, the swelling caused a massive stroke.
I am not talking about speculation. I have talked to so many medical doctors. A St. Louis medical doctor told us that he could pinpoint at least 45 minutes to an hour in Greg’s lack of care that cost him the use of his leg. It is only by the grace of God that Greg survived, not by anything that the Kentucky Athletic Commission or the other “doctor” did that night.
BMIA.com : Greg, what is the extent of your injuries today?
Patricia Page : As Greg has said, he is completely paralyzed on the left side. His short term memory is severely impaired. Some days his speech is very impaired, other days he talks o.k. Some days he doesn’t remember if he has eaten. He has very poor vision in his left eye. He has no peripheral vision in his left eye either. So someone can actually walk up on his left side, and get all of the way around in front of him, before he actually sees them. He can write although some days his writing is unreadable. Other days his writing is OK. Greg has suffered what is called a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and they say he will NEVER recover totally from it. Recovery will continue for the rest of his life. Some things he will never regain. He spends most of his day in his bed or his wheelchair sometimes in his recliner reading his bible, watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island , Mr. Ed, or Sanford and Son. He says that he is happy and I would say that he is.
Greg Page: My favorite TV channels are TV Land or TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network).
BMIA.com: Patricia, what’s a typical day in the Page household?
Patricia Page: Our typical day begins at about 4:00 a.m. This is Greg’s favorite part of the day. We get a chance to laugh and talk and spend time together before either of us gets our day started. Then we get Greg cleaned up and dressed to start his day. Then I feed him breakfast. While he is eating, I get ready for work. Before I leave for work, Greg is set for the day. He has all of the things that he will need around him and he is either in his bed or his chair watching TV. Then I leave. My daughter Teisha, who now lives in an apartment of her own, stops by for lunch and to just hang out with him. At 3:00 p.m. I get home from work and we get ready for dinner and do homework etc. We watch some TV together, like Judge Judy, and then we eat dinner. We spend some time with the girls over homework or just hanging out talking about their day and then it is time to get ready for bed.
If Greg is feeling up to it, we read or make some phone calls. We chat about the day, the girls, or whatever and then it is bedtime. That is pretty much a typical day.
The exception is on Tuesday and Thursdays when he leaves the house to go to therapy. He has physical therapy and occupational therapy for 2 hours. The Rehab Institute wheelchair van comes to pick him up and brings him back to the house.
He has several medical appointments a month and on those days, we might stop by to see an old friend or take a walk around the block once we get back home. Because Greg is paralyzed on the left side and his mobility is limited, I literally have to lift him up, bearing most of his weight, get him pivoted around to sit him on the seat. Then we have to move his legs around and then get the wheelchair folded up and lifted into the car trunk (it weighs almost 60 lbs). I’ve gotten pretty strong. Greg tells me all of the time that it is a good thing that I am not a weak woman. Needless to say we don’t get out very often.
BMIA.com: Greg, I know you have vowed to walk again. How close are you to walking?
Patricia Page: Actually right now, Greg is just now getting familiar with bringing his body up full height using a cane for support. It has been difficult for him but we are starting to see some progress. Greg forgets sometimes that he can’t actually walk, however we feel that he will be able to walk again. The doctors are still skeptical but they know how far Greg has come in this miraculous journey. When God is ready for him to walk, he will. Greg continues to work hard in therapy. Based on the severity of Greg’s brain damage, the doctors say it is a miracle that he even knows his own name but then again, Greg has God in his corner.
BMIA.com: What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career in boxing?
Greg Page: They should really make sure that is what they want to do. You have to eat, sleep and live boxing. They should surround themselves with people that they trust and not only family. You have to be aware and involved in all that is going on around you and this can be real hard for an athlete. You have to be ready to run, run, run and then run some more and do wind sprints. You have to work very hard and not everyone is cut out for that.
BMIA.com: If someone reading this article wants to help you, how can they help?
Patricia Page: We have established the “Friends of Greg Page Fund.” Tax deductible c ontributions can be made at any Fifth Third Bank location or sent directly to Greg. The “Friends of Greg Page Fund” is a registered 501 (c)(3) charitable foundation. The foundation’s mailing address is 208 W. Kenwood Way, Louisville, KY, 40214. These contributions are used for Greg’s care and medical obligations and to take care of Greg. The cost of this care rises continually.
About an hour into our last conversation, it was clear to me that the champ was getting tired. He wasn’t saying much. I finally said, “Well champ let me get out of here and let you get some rest.” All of a sudden his voice got strong and he said: “I’m still here. I still have a few tricks left.” About ten minutes later the champ appeared tired again and Patricia indicated that he needed to get some rest. As I wrapped up the conversation, Page thanked me and stated what has now become his trademark phrase: “Believe in the knockout power of the Lord.”
Greg Page’s pro fighting record stands at 58 wins (48 by knockout), 17 losses and 1 draw. He will never fight professionally again. His quest to regain the heavyweight championship of the world will never happen, but he remains a champion where it counts the most–in his heart .
Additional research and reference material for this interview courtesy of Cincinnati ‘s The Enquirer newspaper. Special thanks to Carla Scopeletis for her editorial work and suggestions.
GARY A. JOHNSON is publisher of Black Men In America, where this article originally appeared.
The Friends of Greg Page Fund
208 W. Kenwood Way
Louisville, KY, 40214