Former two-time welterweight titleholder Paul Williams spoke to RingTV.com on Thursday from his bed at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, in Marietta, Ga., in the wake of Sunday’s career-ending motorcycle accident near Atlanta which left him paralyzed from the waist down.
During a conversation that was facilitated by his manager and trainer, George Peterson, the 30-year-old southpaw expressed gratitude for the general support he has received from fans, which he says is inspiring him to walk again.
“There have been quite a few television and news stations downstairs the past few days and security has had to turn them away. The responses that Paul has been getting from radio stations and the interview requests have just been outrageously crazy,” said Peterson of Williams, who is known as “The Punisher” for his crowd-pleasing, relentless, high-volume punching style.
“I’ve gotten calls from all over the world from people asking about Paul. We’ve gotten so many calls for interviews that I’m considering having a press conference just to let everyone see him and know that he’s okay, because people want to hear from this guy.”
Peterson and Williams confirmed that an initial surgery that was slated for Wednesday and which is intended to stabilize the healthy upper half of the Williams’ spine, has been rescheduled for Friday.
In the meantime, Peterson said Williams, a father of two boys ages 8 and 4, as well as a 6-year-old daughter, has been surrounded by family members.
“Paul is not suffering, but of course, he’s a warrior. He’s ready to get this thing over with. He’s just not feeling any pain,” said Peterson. “For the most part, I just want everyone to understand that he’s doing okay.”
Williams spoke exclusively to RingTV.com below.
RingTV.com: How are you doing, Paul?
Paul Williams: Oh, man, I’m doing great, you know what I’m saying? I appreciate all of the love and support that everyone is sending out there.
RingTV.com: You know that there are a lot of folks who are worried about you?
PW: Tell them that I’m good. I’m talking and everything, even though I’m lying down. But I’m waiting on them to do the surgery. When they’re done, I’m going to get up and do the Stanky Legg for everybody.
RingTV.com: The Stanky Legg?
PW: Yeah, that’s what I said. [Laughs.] I’m going to do it like that. But I’m just waiting. I’ve got to go through the surgery first.
RingTV.com: George Peterson tells me that you’ve had lots of visitors but that he has been so overwhelmed that security has virtually had to shut down the building from all the media requests?
PW: Well, yeah, at the hospital, it’s been ridiculous. So it’s just been my family that has been allowed up here right now. I’ve had all sorts of calls. I’ve got a lot of fans who are just calling and just confirming that I’m alright.
RingTV.com: Anything you want to say to your fans and the public?
PW: To my fans out there, I’m blessed. To be conscious and alive and all of that. To know what’s going on. I’ve got a little spine injury, or whatever. But they’re working on that. But to be able to be breathing on my own, and all of this and all of that.
I feel real good and I love the support that I’ve been getting from my fans. I’ve even been hearing from people who are not my regular fans. There have just been so many calls and good comments. People want to know how I’m doing, they’re sending me stuff.
They’re saying that they’re rooting for me and stuff. All of that love and support, that’s just making me feel so good. It makes me want to show them that I’m going to do this thing. My odds of walking again? You know, I control all of that.
RingTV.com: Do you feel inspired by the general reaction?
PW: I do. I feel really inspired. People say that I was mentioned on Good Morning America and the Tavis Smiley Show. They’re talking about this on all of these different networks. They’re talking about it in places that usually ain’t got nothing to do with boxing.
So it’s coming from all of these networks and television shows and the newspapers and stuff. That sort of love and support just makes me feel real good. So I’m feeling really good and blessed.
It’s like I’m reaching more people now than I ever have, and they all want me to get well and to hurry up back. So I love my fans and I just want to thank everyone for their love and support. This is just like preparing for another fight.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]