LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Greg Page, a former heavyweight boxing champion who suffered a severe brain injury in a 2001 fight, has died at his Louisville home. He was 50.
His wife, Patricia Page, said she found the one-time World Boxing Association champion early Monday morning. Patricia Page said he died of complications related to injuries he suffered in the fight.
Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Jim Wesley said Page had slid from his hospital-type bed, as Wesley said he would occasionally, sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. EDT, when his wife found him, and that his death was consistent with positional asphyxia.
Page was found sitting on the floor with his head lodged between the bed and the rail, Wesley said. Patricia Page immediately moved him to try to resuscitate him, Wesley said.
Page told The Associated Press her husband "is in a better place now."
The March 9, 2001, fight left Page in a coma for nearly a week. He then had a stroke during post-fight surgery. He was paralyzed on his left side and received intensive physical therapy.
Family friend Christopher 2X said Page took on his debilitating injuries with the same intensity as he would have in preparing for a fight.
"When he was challenged with his boxing injuries, he was the presence of courage," 2X said. "Because he never gave up."
Page won a $1.2 million settlement in 2007 with Kentucky boxing officials over the lack of medical personnel at the 2001 fight. Boxing officials also agreed to establish a medical review panel for the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Authority to check the health conditions of people involved in the sport who may be at risk for injury.
Larry Bond, acting executive director of the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Authority, said part of Page's legacy will be his contributions to boxing safety in the state.
"He was a true champion who will be sorely missed both in and out of the ring," Bond said.
Page 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.
2X compared Page to Ali, who can command attention despite his troubles with speaking.
"He didn't have a great speech pattern anymore, but amazingly, when you would talk to him, he would find a way to communicate, by squeezing your hand or nodding his head," 2X said.
Page turned to professional boxing and lost his first shot at the WBA heavyweight championship in 1984 to Tim Witherspoon. In December of that year, Page knocked out Gerrie Coetzee in the eighth round of their bout in South Africa to claim the title, but lost on points to Tony Tubbs five months later.
Page continued boxing through 1993, then took two years off after being knocked out by Bruce Seldon. He started again in 1996.
Page was 42 and had a 58-16-1 career record going into the $1,500 fight against Dale Crowe at Peels Palace in Erlanger, Ky., near Cincinnati. Crowe was 24 and an up-and-coming boxer. Page went down after 10 rounds and didn't get up.
Patricia Page said Monday that funeral arrangements were pending.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
You can send cards and donations to the Greg Page Foundation:
Greg Page Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 9145
Louisville, Ky. 40209-0145