By RYAN MCCRACKEN on December 31, 2020.
When asked if he had any unforgettable memories of late boxing coach Bill Page, longtime friend Kerry Fahlman’s answer was simple and all-encompassing.
“I’ve got a lot of good memories. They’re all good,” said Fahlman, who helped start up the Medicine Hat Boxing Club alongside Page and Ev Nieman in 1975, and still coaches there today.
“It’s hard to just come up with any particular one. We had lots of good times on the road. We had a lot of laughs, of course, and had a lot of success in our club. He was always excited – especially the last few years when Bill wasn’t travelling and I was on the road with the team. If we were at a big tournament, a big championship somewhere and had won a national title or something, Bill was just always above himself to hear the news, always excited.”
Page passed away in 2016, but his legacy as a boxing coach and builder remains thriving through the work he put in at his local club. On Tuesday morning, the City of Medicine Hat announced Page will be posthumously inducted to the Sports Wall of Fame in 2021 alongside the Medicine Hat Hockey Hounds – a well-deserved, albeit overdue honour.
“Obviously it’s a great award and it’ll be nice to see his face on the Wall,” said Fahlman. “Bill and I never had a bad word, ever. He was a friend, I respected him as a coach and I respected him as a person. He was just a good friend. We spoke a lot, we had a lot of other different interests together, too, and we spoke a lot on the phone. I talked to him, a lot of times every day. He’s been missed. In my mind this (induction) should have happened a long time ago, but I’m just happy it did now.”
Page’s nomination package was put together by Medicine Hat Boxing Club secretary-treasurer Elizabeth “Betty” Stewart, who says the man’s commitment was second-to-none.
“I really, truly believe that he deserves it just simply because of the energy and the time and the effort,” said Stewart, who has been with the boxing club for nearly three decades. “He was so committed. He gave countless hours … He just did it. He and his wife were committed to it in that respect.”
Several Hatters came forward with letters of support for Page’s nomination, including Medicine Hat Tigers owner and president Darrell Maser, who spent six years under Page’s coaching.
“Bill was the type of coach who cared about the well being of each boxer. He would take the time to help each person that ever came to the club,” Maser said in a message to the News.
“He would listen to each young boxer’s aspirations, and in his understanding way he would try to help them be the best they could be. Bill never sought the limelight or recognition for himself. When his athletes competed he would give a few words of encouragement and a big smile.
“When you look now at Medicine Hat Boxing Club and all the great people involved like Betty Stewart, Brian Christman, Wes Tschritter, Wade Peterson and so many others, they all were brought to the club by Bill. When I reflect on this honour for Bill, the thing that always will stand out is that Bill was a really good person and a credit to the community of Medicine Hat.”
It’s a sentiment that seems to be shared by everyone who crossed paths with Page over the years – he treated everyone like a champion, and he kept at it right to the end.
“He died Jan. 2 of 2016. He was probably, until mid-2015, still there (coaching at the boxing club). It was incredible,” said Stewart. “He was quite the man. He gave everyone a fair chance. It wasn’t about who was more skilled or anything else. He helped the younger boxers get started, and he was like a father figure in a lot of cases.”
The date for Page’s induction ceremony is still to be determined – as provincial health restrictions currently do not allow for public gatherings – but City of Medicine Hat recreation manager Natalie Sauer says it will be held at some point in 2021.