Retired wrestler Diamond Dallas Page might have blown out the candles on his 65th birthday cake earlier this year.
But he isn’t going to settle for a quiet life and a free bus pass any time soon.
The WWE Hall of Famer, who only started training to become a wrestler in his mid-30s, has made a career out of proving people wrong.
“No-one or nothing motivates me more than to tell me what I can’t do,” he tells the Daily Star.
“When I first started wrestling, I was 35-and-a-half and people fell down laughing. It’s hard to wrap your head around falling down on the mat for the first time at that age.
“During the first month, I can’t tell you how many times I hit that mat and thought: ‘Man, this fake stuff hurts like hell’.”
Despite being a late bloomer, Page, who also goes by the nickname DDP, worked
his way up to become a regular in World Championship Wrestling at a time when WCW was filled with some of the biggest stars in history.
But not only did Page share a ring with Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Macho Man Randy Savage and Goldberg – to name just a few – he became the “People’s Champion” and one of the most popular figures in the company.
However, at the age of 42, Page blew out two discs in his back during a match – and doctors told him to consider hanging up his boots for good.
“I was super-depressed, like anybody would be,” he recalls.
“I had three of the best spine specialists in America tell me: ‘You’re done. You’re never coming back cos you’re too old’.”
Little did the 6ft 5in muscle-bound grappler know it, but salvation would come from an unlikely source – yoga.
“My first wife, Kimberley, tried to talk me into it but I just wouldn’t do it,” says Page.
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“I was a guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga for the first 42 years of my life. My buddies and I made fun of it.
“Kim pestered me and bullied me and finally, thank God, I was smart enough to listen to her.
“When you blow your back out right after you sign a multi-million-dollar three-year contract that’s not guaranteed unless you’re working, you’ll try anything.”
Although he found it hard at first, Page stuck with his new exercise plan. “When I started, I couldn’t do so many of the moves and there were no modifications,” he says.
“I was frustrated. But I kept with it and felt a little different every day. About three weeks in I was like, ‘I think this is going to make a difference’.
“I’d been doing rehab at the same time for my back and one night I took those yoga positions and mixed them with some of the rehabilitation techniques.
“Then I threw in some old-school calisthenics – push-ups, squats, crunches – all done with a slow-burn movement because I had to.”
After several months, Page proved the doctors wrong and returned to the ring. In April 1999, aged 43, he became the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He went on to win the title twice more before the company was bought by WWE in 2001.
After retiring from wrestling, Page continued with yoga but wanted to create a programme for “regular guys”.
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The regime he developed while working on his back injury has grown to become what is now known as DDP Yoga (DDPY).
“The crazy thing I figured out while rehabbing my back was every time you flex or engage a muscle, your heart rate goes up,” he says.
“By accident, I created a kick-ass workout that had killer cardio.
“I wasn’t trying to do that – I was just trying to strengthen my body. I would go to other yoga classes, but it really wasn’t my thing. Most yogis are very namaste but at DDPY we’re all about T&A – tone and attitude.”
DDPY has grown to become an extensive workout programme that helps users take control of their diet, exercise and mindset.
While it is popular among wrestlers and celebrities, including Drew McIntyre, Chris Jericho and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, where DDPY has had the most impact has been in helping more than half a million people to lose weight and improve their lives.
Page’s first major success story was Arthur Boorman, a veteran of the first Gulf War who was unable to walk without help.
After six months of intense training and coaching from DDP himself, Arthur had lost 100lbs and was able to not only walk but run.
A video that showcases his transformation now has almost 100million views on YouTube.
“I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for creating this,’” Page says.
“It makes me feel awesome to be able to help people I don’t know.
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“I never developed this for weight loss, but so many people get their life back because once they start losing weight, they start feeling better about themselves. And once they start applying what I teach, they start to like themselves.”
The story of Page’s wrestling career and the growth of DDPY is featured in the documentary Relentless, which is currently available on Amazon Prime.
Page says: “It took a long time to get here, we waited eight years for DDPY to be an overnight success. I never give up on anything I really believe in ever.”
After conquering the wrestling ring and the business world, he has no plans to slow down.
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He came out of retirement to wrestle his final match for All Elite Wrestling in January 2020. And he plans to follow fellow grapplers John Cena and Dwayne Johnson to become an A-list actor before he turns 68.
“I’ve always chosen the path less travelled,” he explains.
“They laughed at me when I said I was going to do yoga. Nobody laughs at me about anything I say any more.”
● Relentless is streaming on Amazon Prime. You can sign up for 30 days’ free access to the DDP Yoga Now app at ddpy.com/cameo
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