Paul Williams used to be the most feared man in boxing. Impossibly boiling his 6’2″ frame down to the 147 pound welterweight limit and with his freakish 79″ reach, “The Punisher” was a sight to see. He was capable of using his reach and stiff jab to outbox his opponents but instead he typically chose to unleash constant barrages of punches at an unrelenting rate, sometimes even hitting the mythical 1,000 punch mark in a single fight.
“Used to” and “was” are both terms used to indicate the past tense because on May 28th 2012 Paul swerved his motorcycle around a car that had veered into his lane and crashed. Later that day doctors would tell Paul, the former three-time world champion, that he would never box or walk again as he was paralyzed from the waist down. Less than a week after signing up for the biggest fight of his career, the gigantic southpaw found himself in the fight of his life.
But Paul’s spirits never waned, in both of the interviews he did after the accident he used the familiar phrase “hakuna matata,” as in no worries. In a rarity for boxers, Williams had made several savvy real estate investments during his career that helped alleviate the devastating blow that was the abrupt ending to his career. Now he’s started The Paul Williams Foundation and plans to travel the country “to speak to at risk youth as well as athletes to show that a positive attitude can take you place you’ve never dreamed of.”
He’s returned to social media, even posting several pictures of the accident on his new Instagram account. This week Paul got back in the ring for the first time since his accident and hit the heavy bag, posting footage of the event on his YouTube account. Even in a wheelchair, there’s still some of that familiar snap in his punches, each blow producing a booming thud from the bag.
Even after life delivered a punch he seemingly couldn’t come back from, the champ’s still got it.
For reference, here’s an older interview Paul did with Jim Gray, his first televised interview from after his accident, originally released in September of 2012.