Diamond Dallas Page took Jersey Shore work ethic to pinnacle of career
POINT PLEASANT — The man known worldwide as "Diamond Dallas Page" has traveled far from his Jersey Shore roots. But it is those very roots that he said has helped him accomplish so much.
Many of those accomplishments will be recognized a few days before his 61st birthday when he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during the annual Wrestlemania weekend.
Ask him about his time in professional wrestling, and he can tell you about his time sharing the ring with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, and how guys like Dusty Rhodes and Jake Roberts helped him get his start.
Ask him about his transition to a fitness guru and he will tell you about the pleasure he gets in helping people achieve goals across a wide spectrum of needs and opportunities.
Ask him about growing up in Point Pleasant and, despite living in Atlanta now, still uses words like "our" and "we" when talking about the place and friends like Gary Rossi, who he has known for nearly half a century.
Born Page Joseph Falkinburg, he was raised by his grandmother and said Point Pleasant was a great place to grow up.
"I can't think of a better community than ours because our community was like real America," he said. "It wasn't like we were from North Jersey. We were from the Jersey Shore. The ocean was a mile from my house."
Growing up with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, Page said school was not his specialty, but finding sports helped him work his way through his education.
"That's where I learned my work ethic," he said. "I got through on class participation and cheating. I put my efforts into sports and that's where I excelled as a football player and hockey player."
An accident derailed his athletic pursuits temporarily, but as he would do later in life, Page said he found a new outlet playing basketball for the school now known as Donovan Catholic, and eventually playing for his home team Panthers.
Over the course of his career, Page suffered several injuries, including a serious back injury when he turned 42. He said doctors told him he would never wrestle again, but once again overcoming another obstacle, it helped him find his newest career pursuit he's called DDP Yoga.
"I was depressed like a lot of people," he said. "The key for me is you don't stay there. You get out of it as soon as possible."
For Page, getting out of his depression and getting back in the ring involved combining his rehab therapy and traditional yoga. He then added calisthenics, which he said helped him and enabled him to help other people such as former wrestler Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
"In less than three months, I'm back in the ring. At 43 I'm the oldest crowned first time champion in our business."
Over the course of just over a decade, he has written a book on the topic, done a DVD series, and started a whole movement that has instructors in more than 20 countries. He said they are in the process of re-branding to call it DDP-Y because it is more than just traditional yoga.
"People are going to completely forget the yoga word because I'm going after people who wouldn't be caught dead doing yoga," he said. "We have so many people following us because we're getting just unbelievable results."
Page said when he was at the top of the sports entertainment industry one of his catchphrases was "You love me, you hate me, you're never going to forget me." These days he said he believes his fitness business will long outlast his legacy in the ring even after his induction.
Just last year Page was a participant at Wrestlemania and said being able to flash his well known "diamond cutter" hand signal in front of 101,000 fans in Texas was an experience he will never forget.
"What I've learned out of it is I'm very grateful," he said "I'm grateful that I'm able to connect with the fans."
And while he has millions of fans all over the world, Page said he still loves coming back to his hometown and seeing people who knew him when he was just another kid getting a ride to the St. Peter's Park basketball courts to work on his free throws.
Page will not be the only New Jersey native recognized during the ceremony on March 31 in Orlando. Former Rutgers Football player Eric LeGrand will receive the annual Warrior Award for his work helping others after suffering a spinal cord injury on the football field for the Scarlet Knights.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com