The Self-Made Man: Diamond Dallas Page
Most people, when they hear the name Diamond Dallas Page, think of the relentlessly upbeat ex-professional wrestler (and former tag team partner of both Karl Malone and Jay Leno) whose face ages three times as fast as the rest of him. Which is fine, since that’s the role that brought ol’ DDP into the public eye. But you might be less aware of his extraordinary business acumen – the guy’s been an entrepreneur since he was 20, and his personal drive and ambition are unchartable. If you’re one of those TSB readers who’s itching to make things happen, DDP is someone you should definitely look to for inspiration.
Page (who legally changed his name to Dallas Page in 2003) grew up on the Jersey Shore and consequently got involved in nightclub promotion. He was also a keen wrestling fan, and borrowed from wrestling’s more colorful personalities in developing his own public persona (especially for local radio ads) as he built up nightclubs all along the East Coast, finally settling in Ft. Myers, Florida to run a club called Norma Jean’s. Page often compares being a nightclub owner at such a young age to being a fat kid left alone in a candy store, which also illustrates the scale of overindulgence that lifestyle provides.
As it happens, a lot of pro wrestlers lived in Florida then, and they liked Norma Jean’s, so Page got to know some of the guys and subsequently decided to leave the nightclub business and give pro wrestling a try, starting out in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association as a manager and drifting over to Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling from there.
This really isn’t the place to go over Page’s wrestling career, but I will say that he was 35, an age where most wrestlers begin their physical decline, when he decided to transition from being a manager to an in-ring competitor. Most industry veterans told him he was insane to even try wrestling at his age, but Page’s supernatural work ethic carried him through, and he accomplished more in his eleven years as an active competitor than anyone thought possible, and more than a lot of wrestlers who’d put twice as much time into the business.
Since retiring, Page reinvented himself as a fitness guru with his DDP Yoga workout program, which he created (with help from his then-wife, Kimberly Page) while rehabbing two ruptured discs in his back. He began marketing his program to career athletes with help from his friends in the NBA and NFL, and recently became a viral phenomenon when one of his clients, disabled veteran Arthur Boorman, used Page’s program to lose 140 pounds in less than a year and regain enough flexibility to walk without the crutches, back braces, and leg braces he’d been forced into from previous injuries.
As you can see, Page isn’t the kind of guy who sits around waiting for life to come to him. He also, in keeping with many of the entrepreneurs featured here at TSB, advises people to develop meaningful relationships with people in their fields who they actually like, instead of networking for its own sake. Smart advice, I think, and it’s certainly worked out well for him.
I’ll end with a short clip of him talking about DDP Yoga (which was called YRG at the time of the interview).
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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.