"For me," says Neil Gevisser, "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Being impotent is not acceptable."
That mantra is the reason why Neil was compelled to fling his 60-year-old frame at a Brook Green robber, using karate moves to trip him up and return a stolen bag to the victim.
Such an act of bravery would, for many, be one of life's stand-out moments, but Neil has been acting on his strongly-held beliefs since he was a teenager.
Repulsed by apartheid in his native South Africa, he risked his freedom - and his life - by penning a book of poems condemning the regime and escaping to America before the authorities could catch him. That he walked again after breaking his back in a car crash is merely a sub-plot to a life which has seen him act as a masseur to the stars, record an album of poems, write a novel and forge a new life in London with his 28-year-old girlfriend, Hammersmith artist Emma Elliott.
As he says, he's lived 'quite a life'.
Baa Baa black man
Have you got your pass?
Yes baas - yes bass...
Ugly racial farce.
One from my master,
One from my state.
Reminder to all us black men
We are too young to stay up late.
Baa Baa Black Man was one of four anti-racism poems in Neil's first book, Picking up the Pieces of Yourself, written after completing compulsory national service. His stint included saving a black man from being beaten to death,
Others from the left had penned anti-apartheid material behind false names or after fleeing the regime, but Neil took the ultimate gamble, speaking out openly through his work.
"There were a small percentage of white people who were anti-government and the vast majority were silent because you don't speak up in a police state. But I don't think being scared is an excuse and I wanted to make a statement. I was prepared for the consequences."
For two years, his work slipped under the radar of the authorities, "They didn't take it seriously and thought it was a joke at the expense of black men, not realising that it was ironic," he said. "But then it started getting popular and selling at university campuses."
The knock on the door came in 1973. Neil's mother, Zena, answered it to two policeman, and immediately feared her son's life was over. But he was given an extraordinary reprieve.
"They could have knocked me off or imprisoned me but one of the officer's daughters attended mum's finishing school and instead told her I had eight hours to get out of the country."
The book was banned and, aged 21, he was on a plane to California, via Israel, to start a new life.
"When I worked with Bruce Willis, he was let off for speeding in exchange for an autograph after telling the officer his boots were too heavy, and pressed too hard on the accelerator," recalls Neil.
The confidentiality agreements he signed with most of the other famous clients who used his massage expertise prevent him from divulging other nuggets of gossip, but he could fill a book with what he knows.
From a family of four generations of masseurs, the profession provided Neil with an obvious vocation upon his arrival in America. Word of his special 'vibration technique', honed by training muscles in his arms to go into spasm, soon spread among the glitterati and it wasn't long before he was travelling the world helping sports stars like Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe achieve their goals at major tournaments, and ensuring actors including Natalie Portman and Demi Moore stayed in shape. He even massaged George Bush Senior.
"I can vibrate for hours, putting 100lbs of pressure on their muscles to remove fluid, which makes them more efficient," says Neil, who is only 5ft 8ins but has the build of a prop forward. "But it's ripped my body apart because of the stress - I've had reconstructive surgery all over the place."
His skill is astounding in light of the car crash he suffered in South Africa that broke his back and led to warnings from doctors that further slips could leave him paralysed.
After moving to Britain in 2006 he penned two new books of poems, Cunning Linguist and Rhyme Disease. An album about addiction called Under the Counterculture followed and, despite never having been promoted, one of the tracks, The Highway, has become a cult hit at raves in the South West, where he has a house.
"I'd describe it as leftfield trance-rap," says Neil. He isn't joking.
His next project is his biggest to date. A novel called the Tyranny of Appearance, which he started in 1972, is nearing completion. A fictional biography, it is set during the height of apartheid and is based on the stories of people he associated with at a house in the notorious District 6 in Cape Town.
"It's taken so long and is an eye-opener editing my work aged 21 as a man of 60," he says. "It has been a life's work."
Helping him arrive at the finish line is girlfriend Emma, an up and coming artist. Despite the age gap, they have a blossoming relationship.
"She must be eccentric to go out with me," jokes Neil. But it sure must be interesting.
Find out more about Neil's work at www.rhymedisease.com