Why did Greg Page keep boxing?
Michael Mudd, a member of the Kentucky Athletic Commissioner and a former boxer, knows the answer.
"Because some people just love boxing," says Mudd, drinking coffee and smoking in a Louisville restaurant. "I love to fight. I've fought everywhere. In a parking lot behind a liquor store, a warehouse, everywhere."
His last bout was in 1999 at age 53.
Mudd said his opponent was supposed to be 40 years old and weigh 175. Instead, the man was 30 and weighed 200 pounds. Mudd was punched so hard, his sternum cracked. He suffered a heart attack, but didn't quit.
"I said, 'Hell, I feel OK. Let's keep going.' "
He lost, by the way.
Mudd is a man who speaks his mind and couldn't care less what others think. Commissioner Black made herself spokeswoman for all things related to the Page fight. "No one's going to tell me who I can talk to," Mudd said.
He first met Page as a teenager. "Greg was a brooding kind of kid. He was very intense, somewhat of a thinker. He didn't trust people and I can understand that, because there's not many people you can trust in boxing."
Mudd started at 15. He and his buddies would box each other in the basement of the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. Occasionally, "somebody upstairs would get drunk and come down and go a few rounds with us."
He's been an ironworker and local government bureaucrat, but always he's lived in the boxing circuit to which Page retired.
"The boxing business is really this: An agent picks up all his fighters. Takes them to the next town for a fight. Then he drives them to the next town," Mudd said. "They make $400 a fight for four rounds. So in three days, they can make $1,200. That's pretty good money for a man with a family."
Mudd was not at the Page fight. But no one who's seen it or the videotape, he said, has told him Page hit his head. "I find it hard to believe Greg was injured in that fight," Mudd said. "He was a tough guy."
If the canvas pad wasn't the regulation 1 inch, Mudd said, Page's trainer has no one to blame but himself.
"It's Doolin's job to check the pad. That's his fighter up there."
Commissioner Black will not comment on the fight investigation.
Mudd, a red-faced man with leathery cheeks, loves to smoke despite his heart attack. His nose has been broken four times, he says. Some guy would bust it with a left hook, another would break it with a right. Each time, he says, "it kinda laid on the side of my face." Finally, "it got busted so many times it ended up in the middle.
"But it doesn't look too bad. Most of the ugliness on me I was born with."
He feels bad for Page. Terrible things happen in boxing, Mudd said.
"Look, your brain sits in liquid in your brain pan--so your brain is constantly being crashed against one side of the cranium or the other during a fight," Mudd said. "But some of these guys love boxing and they can't give it up."