On May 27th, 2012, former two time world champion ‘The Punishment’ Paul Williams, was involved in a motorcycle accident which left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
Facing the toughest fight of his life, Williams shows the world the same positive and determined attitude that brought him to the top of the boxing world.
Williams was scheduled to face Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on September 15th , instead, he gave an interview to Jim Gray on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Jim Grey: Paul, what do you remember from the night of your accident?
Paul Williams: Well I remember getting up in the morning in my brother’s house. It was about 7 o’ clock in the morning. I remember going to the trunk, putting my bike jacket on and leaving. I wasn’t going fast. I got to the red light, the red light turned green, I took off and I guess a car was coming too.
We was going around the curb together and I guess the car didn’t come all the way over but the car started drifting close to me so I just moved over.
There was ridges in the road, and the ridges made the bike go right across oncoming cars, dodged this car, dodged that car and dodged the other cars and went it and flipped, and people that say they saw it, they said when it flipped me, I came down head first and folded like a suitcase.
Jim Grey: Did you think you might die? Did you think you’d be able to walk? Did you have any idea, what was you thinking was going on?
Paul Williams: You know, at first, when everything happened, people say you think a thousand things, everything was a blink. I just didn’t know what to think.
I was like OK, I know I’m still breathing so that’s a good sign. The whole time I was trying to move my toes and stuff. That’s the first thing you do when you get hurt, you’re going to try and move your toes, so I couldn’t move my toes because I was still on my bike and stuff. So I was telling them, I have trouble breathing but I’m good.
Jim Grey: To have been so physically gifted and to be a great athlete and a championship fighter, how are you dealing with the mental aspect of this now having been so great and so physical to not being able to move your limbs?
Paul Williams: Oh with me!? You know man, small thing. Right now, I’m still the same, I do everything the same. I’m just chilling in the wheelchair because I got tired of walking, if I tell you.
Jim Grey: [laughs] In your quiet moments, when you’re laying in your bed, do you think back a lot about your boxing career and about what you’ve accomplished?
Paul Williams: Oh yes, I mean, sometimes I think back like man, I accomplished a lot, I did a lot, but I want to do one more, and I feel sorry for my fans.
I feel like I let them down even though I know pretty sure that I didn’t let them down, but in my eyes I feel, I let them down because I’m in a wheelchair. I’m hurting right now but they made me feel so good, like the little kids, how they come up to me, they really appreciate me. I’m sitting talking to them, it’s motivating me like you know what, say nothing.
I don’t be depressed about it or nothing. I’m like you know what, hakuna matata, I ain’t going to worry about it. That’s my way of dealing with all of this, joking it off and laughing it off and having fun and live my life.
If I was depressed, mad and sad, I got two problems going on. One, I can’t walk and two, I’m mad and depressed, so I’d rather keep one problem. I’ll be happy man, I’ll be me. All this right here, this is temporary. I’m on energy reserve right now…so don’t count me out.
Jim Grey: Do you believe that you’ll walk again?
Paul Williams: Of course I believe I’ll walk again! They told me, all my stuff works, I just can’t fix a robot right now, basically putting in my terms, so I understand it better.
The core wasn’t separated, it’s just bruised real bad, they moved the bone that was on it, the bruise, and you know, in time, who knows what will happen. They can’t say you could walk, they can’t say you can’t but, your core is not separated, it’s just bruised.
Jim Grey: So if you think you can walk, you also feel that it’ll be possible at some point, to fight again?
Paul Williams: Oh yeah! I look at it like this, since I’m 31, my birthday July 27th, I just turned 31, so they say you got to give a year or two, for the swelling. They say sometimes it may happen faster, it all depends on the body, so I was like OK. If I make it, a year or two, I’m 32 or 33, I’ll fight. 34, I ain’t going to fight.
So I got two years to really push it, so I’m pushing for that, because I want to give my fans a good run and show them that you know, whether I’m hurt or not hurt, I enjoy the love that y’all gave me and I just want to give it back.
Jim Grey: Where do you find this attitude?
Paul Williams: I don’t know man. I’ve been like this from day one. I mean, I love to smile. People be like, “why you smiling man? You in a chair” I’m like “cos, you standing up. I’m more comfortable than you”.
You know, my game ain’t over. Whether I’m walking or not walking, my game ain’t over until the Lord takes my life. I’ll be OK, you know what I’m saying? Whether I walk again or don’t walk again, I want to let them know that I can deal with this however. You know, small thing to a giant. Hakuna matata, don’t worry. You know, that’s me.
Jim Grey: Thank you Paul.
Paul Williams: Thank You.
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