RICHMOND -- Once he was known as "Mighty Quinn," a world welterweight boxing champion whose hard left hook propelled him from his native Pittsburg to the biggest of stages.
To authorities across the East Bay, James Page is suspected of earning a new nickname in recent months: the "Button Down Bandit."
In a jailhouse interview Tuesday, a day after he was arrested on suspicion of robbing eight East Bay banks, the 42-year-old spoke softly about what he called his "fall from grace."
"It's something I got to fight," he said of the charges. "I'll have my day in court."
Authorities arrested Page in Oakland on Monday after a nearly three-month investigation into bank robberies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that happened between March 6 and June 8. According to the FBI, Page was a suspect in the robbery of banks in Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Antioch, Oakley, Lafayette and Emeryville.
FBI had dubbed the robber the "Button Down Bandit" because he wore long-sleeve, collared shirts to the heists.
At the West County Jail in Richmond on Tuesday, Page wore yellow jail garb and sandals.
Page refused to speak about his pending case, saying he isn't interested in talking about his past, but he wants to put it all down in a book: a story that would include a promising boxing career, a stint in rehab and trouble with the law.
Page rose to prominence in the 1990s, attracting attention from promoter Don King and knocking out Russian Andrei Pestriaev in two rounds in Paris to win the World Boxing Association title.
"James is a devastating left hooker, one of the best in the business," his former trainer, Terry Lee, said in 2001.
By the time he won his title, he had already served two stints in prison, including 10 months in San Quentin in late 1996 and 1997 after he was convicted of theft from a Concord athletic club. He was stripped of his title after he failed to appear at a mandatory fight in November 2000. In Dec. 2001, he was arrested in the robbery of a bank in Atlanta and later sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.
He attempted a comeback after his release in 2012; his last fight, a loss, was in November, he said Tuesday. In a video posted to YouTube, Page said he had put a life of crime behind him.
"I got my head right ... to stay on the right path to get back to the championship of the world," Page said.
Linda Hudson, who managed Page in the early days, called his arrested a "shame."
"He had a lot of talent," Hudson said. "You just hate to see that happen. There was a really good side to him. He just ran into the wrong people and went the wrong direction."
He is being held on suspicion of robbery in lieu of $395,000 bail.
His mother and one-time manager Pamela Page broke down in tears talking about her son's arrest Tuesday.
"He's a loving kid. I never would have thought he would do anything like that. I don't understand it myself," she said.