Little Known Black History Fact: Boxer Greg Page

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  • Greg Page was the World Boxing Association Heavyweight champion in 1984 for one year. His professional record after his retirement in 2001 was 58-17-1 with 48 Knockouts. He started fighting while growing up in Louisville and was sparring with Muhammad Ali by the time he was 15. He became the National Golden Gloves heavyweight champion in 1978 at age 20.

    As an amateur, the Louisville, Kentucky native was noticed for defeating Igor Vysotsky, a Russian champion who had fought and won against an Olympic Gold Medalist. He turned pro three years later in 1979.

    After Page turned to professional boxing, he lost his first shot at the WBA heavyweight championship in 1984 to Tim Witherspoon. But in redemption, he went to South Africa to fight Gerrie Coetzee when the original fighter, David Bey, refused to fight Coetzee in South Africa because of apartheid. Page knocked out Gerrie Coetzee in the eighth round and claimed the title.

    Only a few months after the big Coetzee win, things changed for Page. In a match against Tony Tubbs, a fighter who he had beat numerous times before, Page lost in a unanimous decision. And when he returned to his hotel room, someone had stolen his championship belt, a $13,000 watch, and his road cook’s $10,000 mink.

    In the 1980’s Page was on the map as Mike Tyson’s sparring partner. The word was that Page was being set up for a match against Tyson, but after losing a fight against Mark Wills, the talk of a Tyson match stopped.  Over the next few years, Page fought several matches, once against James “Bonecrusher” Smith and Donovan “Razor Ruddock.”

    After a two-year break, Page fought again in 1996. He was 42 years old and had a 58-16-1 career record going into the $1,500 fight against Dale Crowe. Crowe was a rising, strong, 24-year-old boxer. Page went down and stayed down after 10 rounds. Against regulation, there was no ambulance or medic near the ring. Shortly after the match, Page complained to friends of complications. He was admitted to the hospital where doctors found a bleeding mass in his head. During surgery, Page suffered a stroke and fell into a coma for one week.

    Though he recovered from his stroke, Page had several medical complications afterward, including pneumonia and seizures. He sued the state of Kentucky, and won. As a result, the boxing federation now carries the Greg Page Safety Initiative to assist boxers with safety conditions and provide ring regulations.

    Page passed away April 27, 2009.
     

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