Saturday, February 14, 2009
Page Looks To Leave His Mark
By Rick Wright
Journal Staff Writer
For Damacio Page, mixed-martial-arts fighter, tattoo artist and community activist, life is all about making an imprint.
On March 1 in Corpus Christi, Texas, the West Mesa graduate will attempt to beat a steady tattoo on the face and body of Brazil's Marcos Galvao. The 135-pound bout is on the undercard of a World Extreme Cagefighting card headlined by Leonard Garcia, Page's teammate at Albuquerque's Jackson-Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts, and Mike Brown.
Page, though, also hopes to make an indelible mark on his community.
Growing up in Albuquerque's Westgate neighborhood, a child of divorce, Page used sports as a way out. A state champion wrestler at West Mesa, he was a junior-college All-American at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., and earned an athletic scholarship at Fresno State.
At that point, however, the hardscrabble kid from Albuquerque's far West Side refused delivery on achievement and good fortune. Just three months into his first semester in Fresno, off-the-mat scuffles cost him his scholarship and his wrestling career.
In the years that followed, Page channeled his anger and energy into MMA — fighting for myriad organizations and twice traveling to Japan. His talent and crowd-pleasing style caught the eye of WEC, which signed him a year ago. He made his WEC debut last February at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, beating Scott Jorgensen by unanimous decision.
"If there's a local fighter on the MMA scene that people need to get behind, it's this kid right here (Page)," says Albuquerque boxing promoter Juan Romero, a friend and mentor. "He's really gonna go somewhere, and he's gonna put on a great show every time he fights."
Page says he tries to use his popularity in his hometown to help kids avoid the kind of misstep he made at Fresno State.
"The homeboys that I chilled with (growing up), three are dead, two I don't hear from anymore," he says. "... I want to tell these kids, look at yourself now with all your homeboys while you're chilling and kicking it and, yeah, everybody's around you.
"But when you're out of high school, 18, 19, 20, they start disappearing on you.
"And pretty soon you're 26, 27, you're all alone and you're just some bum on the street."
Not everyone listens, he said, but some do.
"I could talk to 100,000 kids," he said. "If one makes it and says, 'Hey, man, that one day when we were talking, you helped me out,' then it's all right. I did my job for that kid."
Mike Winkeljohn, Page's stand-up coach at Jackson-Winkeljohn, calls his student a stand-up guy.
"I've seen that kid grow," Winkeljohn said. "He does a lot of little community things, and he's overcome a lot."
Page (10-4) hopes to overcome Galvao (9-2), a specialist in Brazilian jiujitsu, by staying on his feet and using the boxing skills he honed on a recent visit to Las Vegas, Nev. He sparred with professional boxers at two Vegas gyms in an effort to start landing more punches and absorbing fewer than in the past.
The wrestling skills he learned at West Mesa and Cerritos will be on full display as well, as he fends off Galvao's attempts to shoot and take him to the ground.
"I think, well, I know, my wrestling's at a higher level than his is," Page says. "I'm gonna use my wrestling ability to get him off, push him off. Sooner or later, all those shots are gonna catch up to him and tire him out."
Oh, about the tattoo thing:
"I used to draw a lot, and one of my good friends was a tattoo artist," he says. "He bought a new machine and power source and sold me his old one. That's how I got started."
Page's heavily tattooed body is in part a self-portrait.
"I've got one on my left leg that I did," he says "and there's one on the inside of my arm where I drew it out and let my sister and my mom help me tattoo it.
"I let my mom do the line work, I let my sister do some of the shading, and I finished it off for them."
His favorite tattoo? "That one, because it says, 'A mother's love.'"
The March 1 WEC card will be televised nationally on Versus. The Page-Galvao bout may or may not make the telecast.