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Sunday, 11 August 2013
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN GREG PAGE A PROFESSIONAL BOXER WBA HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMPION : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY Greg Page October 25, 1958 – April 27, 2009 was a boxer from Louisville, Kentucky. He was the WBA Heavyweight Champion from December 1984 to April 1985, losing the title in his first defence. His professional record was 58-17-1 with 48 knockouts, defeating Gerrie Coetzee, Jimmy Young, James "Quick" Tillis, Renaldo Snipes, Alfredo Evangelista, Scott LeDoux, James Broad, James "Bonecrusher" Smith, and Tim Witherspoon in an exceptionally long career, and was a regular sparring partner for Mike Tyson, famously knocking the champ down in a 1990 session.
Page, after a brief stint with a Southern Indiana trainer, started boxing at age 15 under the tutelage of Leroy Emerson at the Louisville Parks Department gym in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood.
He first came to the public's attention by sparring several rounds with the iconic Muhammad Ali.
In 1976, at the U.S.A.-U.S.S.R. Amateur Heavyweight Championships in Las Vegas, Page scored a major victory when he defeated Igor Vysotsky, the big punching Russian who twice beat the legendary Cuban and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Teofilo Stevenson.
Page won the National AAU Heavyweight Championship in 1977. The following year, he repeated as the National AAU Heavyweight Champion and won the National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship.
Page finished his amateur career with a record of 94-11.
Page turned pro in February 1979, knocking out Don Martin in two rounds before a crowd of 7,500 at the Commonwealth Convention Center in Louisville. He put together 13 straight wins, 12 by knockout. The only fighter to go the distance with Page was George Chaplin, whom he defeated by a ten-round majority decision.
Page won the vacant USBA Heavyweight title on February 7, 1981 with a seventh-round TKO of Stan Ward.
After knocking out Marty Monroe and Alfredo Evangelista, Page had a rematch with George Chaplin and won by a twelve-round split decision. He followed the Chaplin win with a fourth-round knockout of Scott LeDoux.
Page retained the USBA belt with a unanimous decision over Jimmy Young on May 2, 1982. The following month, on the undercard of the Larry Holmes/Gerry Cooney fight, Page fought Trevor Berbick. Fighting with a broken right thumb from the second round, Page lost for the first time as a professional, dropping a ten-round unanimous decision to Berbick.
Page returned to defend the USBA belt against contender James "Quick" Tillis in November 1982. After suffering the first knock down of his career in the second round, Page came back to KO Tillis in the eighth round.
In 1983, Page retained the USBA title again, beating Renaldo Snipes over twelve rounds and taking his WBC #1 ranking. WBC heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, claiming the $2.55 million purse he was offered to fight Page wasn't enough, vacated the WBC title.
In March 1984, Page fought Tim Witherspoon for the vacant WBC belt. Incensed over money troubles with promoter Don King, Page had gone on strike in the gym and arrived out of shape for the bout. Witherspoon, who had lost a disputed decision to Holmes the previous year, pulled off an upset and took the title with a twelve-round majority decision. After the fight, Page fired Leroy Emerson as his trainer.
Page returned in August with new trainer Janks Morton, and fought undefeated David Bey, ranked sixth in the world by the WBC. Page lost his second fight in a row when Bey took a twelve-round unanimous decision.
When Bey refused to fight reigning WBA heavyweight title holder Gerrie Coetzee in Sun City, South Africa due to Apartheid, Page stepped in. Coetzee, one of the premier power punchers of the 80's, was favored to retain the title. Page, however, boxed superbly, decking Coetzee twice before knocking him down in the eighth round to win the title.
There was controversy due to the eighth round running long: the knockout was 48 seconds after the round should have ended. The timekeeper had issues with the system all night, and it had also affected undercard bouts. Although the Coetzee camp lodged a protest, the WBA stated that the time did not affect the outcome as Page looked set to win throughout.
Page made his first title defense against Tony Tubbs in Buffalo, New York on April 29, 1985. Page had beaten Tubbs six out of seven times in the amateurs and was the favorite to win, but Tubbs upset the odds and won by a fifteen-round unanimous decision. To make matters worse, Page's hotel room in Buffalo was burgled. Taken was Page's championship belt, a $13,000 watch, and a $10,000 mink coat belonging to his road cook.
Page returned to face James "Buster" Douglas in January 1986. Douglas stunned Page and took a unanimous decision.
In June 1986, Page competed in a heavyweight tournament at the Forum in Inglewood, California. He showed up horribly out of shape at 242 pounds to fight Mark Wills in a scheduled ten-rounder. Page was dropped by a barrage in the first round, but came back to deck Wills with a left hook in the second. In the sixth round, he stuck his tongue out at Wills, who immediately hit Page with an uppercut. The punch made Page bite his tongue, which would bleed profusely for the rest of the fight. Page was dropped again in the ninth round by a right to the chin, and, in a shocking result, elected to retire before the 10th.
Page became a regular sparring partner for reigning World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson in the late 80's and boxed on several of his undercards. Before Tyson's upset loss to Buster Douglas in February 1990, Page decked Tyson in a public sparring session. He was believed to be in line to fight Tyson when he fought a rematch with Mark Wills on the undercard of the Pernell Whitaker/Azumah Nelson fight in May 1990. At a record low weight of 218 lbs, Page seemed to lack strength. In the sixth round, Page walked straight into a huge overhand right that felled him like a tree. Although he beat the count, he looked dazed enough for referee Carlos Padilla to wave the fight off.
13 years into a very long career and clearly past his best, Page continued to fight and, in February 1992, fought the big punching Jamaican Donovan "Razor" Ruddock. Ruddock was returning after two bruising fights with Tyson that, due to the subsequent incarceration of Tyson, had established Ruddock as the most feared heavyweight in the world. Page gave Ruddock a hard time before being rocked by a series of big shots in the eighth round, which caused the referee to stop the contest.
After defeating former WBA Heavyweight Champion James "Bonecrusher" Smith by a unanimous decision, Page was matched with former WBO Heavyweight Champion Francesco Damiani in September 1992. In a close contest, he lost two points for repeatedly losing his mouthpiece. The point deductions cost Page a draw: All three judges had Damiani winning by two points.
After winning three straight fights by knockout, Page boxed future WBA Heavyweight Champion Bruce Seldon in August 1993. Page was stopped in the ninth round and retired after the fight.
After retiring, Page started training boxers. He worked with Oliver McCall and was in McCall's corner when he stunningly scored a second-round knockout of Lennox Lewis to win the WBC World Heavyweight Championship in London on September 24, 1994 and was also present for McCall's breakdown in Lewis/McCall rematch pleading with McCall to, "Not do this to himself".
He trained boxers for several years, but grew restless. "I was training boxers to fight guys I could beat myself," Page said.
Page returned to the ring in May 1996. He went 16-0-1 with 15 knockouts before taking on Monte Barrett in October 1998. Barrett, 18-0 with 12 knockouts, won by a lopsided unanimous decision.
After dropping a dubious decision to journeyman Art is Pendergrass, Page had a rematch with Tim Witherspoon in June 1999. The 40-year-old Page scored a first round knockdown and won when the 41-year-old Witherspoon tore a muscle in his back and couldn't come out for the eighth round.
Page went 2-2 in his next four fights. He was well past his prime, but he continued to fight because he needed money. In 1998, Page filed for bankruptcy, claiming a $50,000 debt. By 2000, he was working his first 9-to-5 job, painting dental equipment at Whip-Mix Corp. in the South End of Louisville.
On March 9, 2001, Page fought Dale Crowe at Peel's Palace in Erlanger, Kentucky for $1,500. Page appeared to be holding his own with Crowe until the tenth round. Crowe said, "The timekeeper smacked the mat with his hand toward the end of the fight to indicate ten seconds were left, and that's when I went after Greg with one last flurry." Crowe hit Page with a flush left to the chin and then pushed him back. Page fell against the ropes, slid down, and was counted out by the referee.
What followed was chaos. There wasn't an ambulance, a team of paramedics, or oxygen, all of which were required by law. The ringside doctor, Manuel Mediodia, wasn't licensed in Kentucky and was under suspension in Ohio. At the time of the stoppage, Mediodia had already left and had to be brought back into the building. Twenty-two minutes passed before an ambulance arrived.
Before the fight, Page's trainer, James Doolin, complained to several members of the state commission about the conditions, including the lack of oxygen. He then wrote his complaints on a piece of paper and sealed it inside an envelope. Doolin gave it to the commission chairman, Jack Kerns, who then gave it back to Doolin. "Mail it to me," Kerns said.
Page was taken to the emergency room at St. Luke's hospital, where a CT scan revealed a huge mass being formed by the bleeding inside his head. He was then transported to University Hospital in Cincinnati. During post-fight brain surgery, he suffered a stroke and was left paralyzed on the left side of his body. Page was in a coma for nearly a week.
For the rest of his life, Page suffered many complications from his injury. He was hospitalized numerous times for such ailments as pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, sepsis, hypothermia, and seizures.
Page filed a lawsuit against the state of Kentucky and settled out of court for $1.2 million in 2007. As part of the settlement, boxing safety regulations the state enacted the previous year were named the "Greg Page Safety Initiative.