James Buster Douglas!
James “Buster” Douglas (born April 7, 1960) is an American former professional boxer who competed between 1981 and 1999. He reigned as undisputed world heavyweight champion in 1990 after defeating Mike Tyson to win the title. His victory over Tyson is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
Douglas was a 42-to-1 underdog going into his 1990 fight against Tyson, who was undefeated and considered to be the best boxer in the world for his domination of the division over the previous three years. Defying expectations, Douglas knocked out Tyson in the 10th round to claim the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles. He reigned as the world heavyweight champion for eight months until he was defeated by Evander Holyfield in his only title defense. Retiring shortly after the fight, Douglas engaged in a series of comeback fights between 1996 and 1999 before retiring a second and final time.
The son of professional boxer William “Dynamite” Douglas, Douglas grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in the predominantly black Linden neighborhood of Windsor Terrace. It was his father, who ran a gym at the Blackburn Recreation Center near Downtown Columbus, and subsequently introduced young James to boxing (in the same way James would later bring his son Lamar to the same gym.) He attended Linden McKinley High School, where he played football and basketball, leading Linden to a Class AAA state basketball championship in 1977. After high school, Douglas played basketball for the Coffeyville Community College Red Ravens in Coffeyville, Kansas, from 1977 to 1978; the 17-year-old was a 6’0″ power forward. He is in the Coffeyville Community College Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame. He also played basketball at Sinclair Community College from 1979 to 1980 in Dayton, Ohio, before attending Mercyhurst University on a basketball scholarship. He moved back to Columbus to focus on boxing.
For a brief period of time during his early twenties, Douglas was known as the “Desert Fox” within the Columbus boxing community. This moniker was affixed to Douglas because of a misinterpreted encyclopedia entry regarding Douglas MacArthur and Erwin Rommel. Several friends of Buster Douglas mistakenly believed that Douglas MacArthur was known as the “Desert Fox” and subsequently addressed the future heavyweight champion as such. However, Buster Douglas distanced himself from the “Desert Fox” label no later than 1985 because of clarification from his promotional team and the concern that he might be confused with Syrian boxer Ghiath Tayfour.
Douglas made his debut on May 31, 1981, and defeated Dan O’Malley in a four-round bout. He was managed by John Johnson (former Ohio State assistant football coach.) He won his first five fights before coming into a fight with David Bey twenty pounds heavier than he usually did in his early fights. Bey knocked Douglas out in the second round to hand him his first defeat. After six more fights, all wins, Douglas fought Steffen Tangstad to a draw on October 16, 1982. He was penalized two points during the course of the fight which proved to be the difference.
After the draw Douglas beat largely journeyman fighters over the next fourteen months. Two of his wins were against Jesse Clark. Douglas fought him a total of three times and knocked him out all three times. In his last fight of 1983, Douglas was dominating opponent Mike White, but White knocked him out in the ninth round.
On November 9, Douglas was scheduled to fight heavyweight contender Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas. Berbick pulled out of the bout three days before it was scheduled and Randall “Tex” Cobb elected to take the fight in Berbick’s place. Douglas defeated the former heavyweight contender by winning a majority decision. The next year, he fought up-and-coming contender Jesse Ferguson, In 1986 Douglas fought only three times defeating former champion Greg Page and fringe contender David Jaco in two of the fights. This earned him a shot at the International Boxing Federation championship that Michael Spinks was stripped of for refusing to defend it. Douglas started well against Tony Tucker and was ahead on points, but he ran out of gas and was stopped in the tenth round.
After the Tucker defeat and series of disagreements James split with his father, the Douglas family was shattered, James started business from scratch and handpicked another team for himself, particularly a new trainer. This won him four consecutive fights and he went on to fight Trevor Berbick in 1989, winning by a unanimous decision. He followed that up with a unanimous decision victory over future heavyweight champion Oliver McCall, and earned a shot at the undisputed heavyweight championship held by Mike Tyson, who became the universally recognized champion after knocking out Spinks in one round in 1988. (Douglas fought on the undercard of the event and defeated Mike Williams by TKO in seven rounds.)