James "Buster" Douglas
Personal information
Real name: James Douglas
Nickname(s): Buster
Nationality: American
Date of birth: (1960-04-07) April 7, 1960 (age 60)
Place of birth: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Personal Statistics
Weight: {{convert/numdisp/fracExpression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[". Heavyweight|Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Heavyweight}}Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[". (Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Arguments' not found. kg)
Reach: 83 in (Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Arguments' not found. cm)
Boxing career information

James "Buster" Douglas (born April 7, 1960) is a former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion who scored a stunning upset when he knocked out previously undefeated champion Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan. At the time, Tyson was considered to be the best boxer in the world and one of the most feared heavyweight champions in history due to his utter domination of the division. The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, the only Las Vegas casino to make odds on the fight (all others declining to do so as they considered the fight such a foregone conclusion), had Douglas as a 42 to 1 underdog for the fight, making his victory, in commentator Reg Gutteridge's words, "the biggest upset in boxing history, bar none."

Douglas held the title for eight months and two weeks, losing on October 25, 1990, to 28-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch, 208-pound Evander Holyfield, via third-round KO, in his only title defense.

Growing up[edit | edit source]

The son of professional boxer William "Dynamite" Douglas, Douglas grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in the predominantly black Linden-area neighborhood, Windsor Terrace. He attended Linden McKinley High School where he played football and basketball, even 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 where the seventeen-year-old was a 6 feet 0 inch Power forward. He is in the Coffeyville Red Ravens Men's Basketball Hall of Fame.[1] He also played basketball at Sinclair Community College from 1979 to 1980 in Dayton, OH before attending Mercyhurst University on a basketball scholarship. He moved back to Columbus to focus on boxing.[2] 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 Rommel 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.[3][4]

Boxing career[edit | edit source]

Douglas made his debut on May 31, 1981 and defeated Dan O'Malley in a four round bout. 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 went on to beat largely journeyman fighters over the next fourteen months. Two of his wins were against Jesse Clark, who never won a fight in his career; 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, only to lose the fight when 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, but was beaten by majority decision.

Douglas fought three times in 1986, 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 did not perform well against Tony Tucker and was knocked out in ten rounds.

After the Tucker defeat Douglas won four consecutive fights and 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.)

Championship fight against Mike Tyson[edit | edit source]

Main article: Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas

The fight was scheduled for February 11, 1990 and took place in Tokyo at the Tokyo Dome. Almost everyone assumed that Douglas' fight versus Mike Tyson was going to be another quick knockout for the champion. Only one betting parlor in Las Vegas would hold odds for the bout, and many thought it was just an easy tune-up for Tyson before a future mega-fight with undefeated Evander Holyfield, who had recently moved up to heavyweight from cruiserweight where he became the first boxer to be the undisputed champion of the weight class.

Douglas' mother, Lula Pearl, died 23 days before the title bout.[5] Douglas, who had trained hard, surprised the world by dominating the fight from the beginning, using his 12-inch reach advantage to perfection. He seemingly hit Tyson at will with powerful jabs and right hands and skillfully danced out of range of Tyson's own punches. The champion had not taken Douglas seriously, expecting another quick and easy knockout victory. He was slow, refusing to move his head and slip his way in (his usual effective strategy) but rather setting his feet and throwing big, lunging hooks, repeatedly trying to beat Douglas with single punches. By the fifth round, Tyson's left eye was swelling shut from Douglas' many right hands, and ringside HBO announcers proclaimed it was the most punishment they had ever seen the champion absorb. Larry Merchant memorably added "Well if Mike Tyson, who loves pidgeons, was looking for a pidgeon in this bout he hasn't found him".

Tyson's cornermen appeared to be unprepared for the suddenly dire situation. They had not brought an endswell to the fight, so they were forced to put tap water into a latex glove to hold over Tyson's swelling eye. By the end of the fight, Tyson's eye had swollen almost completely shut. In the eighth round, Tyson landed a right uppercut that knocked Douglas down. The referee's count engendered controversy as Douglas was on his feet when the referee reached nine, although the official knockdown timekeeper was two seconds ahead. In the ring the final arbiter of the knockdown seconds is the referee and a comparison with Douglas's winning knockdown count issued to Tyson two rounds later revealed that both fighters had received long counts.[6]

Tyson came out aggressively in the dramatic ninth round and continued his attempts to end the fight with one big punch hoping that Douglas was still hurt from the 8th round knockdown. Both men traded punches before Douglas connected on a multi-punch combination that staggered Tyson back to the ropes. With Tyson hurt along the ropes Douglas unleashed a vicious attack to try to finish off a dazed Tyson but, amazingly, Tyson withstood the punishment and barely survived the 9th round. Douglas dominated the tenth round from the outset. While setting Tyson up with his jab Douglas scored a huge uppercut, followed by a rapid combination, and knocked Tyson down for the first time in his career, making boxing history. Tyson struggled to his knees and picked up his mouthpiece lying on the mat next to him. He awkwardly attempted to place it back into his mouth. The image of Tyson with the mouthpiece hanging crookedly from his lips would become an enduring image from the fight. He was unable to beat the referee's count, and Douglas was the new heavyweight champion of the world. As Buster Douglas said in an interview years later '“I thought Tyson was getting up until I had seen him looking for that mouth piece and then I knew that he was really hurt. So anytime you know you only got ten seconds to get up so you aren’t going to worry about anything but just getting up first. So when I had seen him looking around for that mouth piece I knew he was really hurt.”.[7] By contrast, during Douglas's knockdown two rounds earlier, the fighter shows to be ready to continue early in the count (he bangs his fist against the canvas in frustration at having let Tyson land the crucial counterpunch, showing no signs of being seriously hurt). Douglas, however, clearly waits for the referee to count to 8 before getting up.

Douglas long dreamed of the moment when he would be awarded the Heavyweight Championship Belt and his joy at receiving it and putting it on in the ring following the bout is apparent. His joy soon turned to confusion and then anger as manager John Johnson informed him in the dressing room that Tyson and Don King were lodging an official protest about the referee's knockdown count in the eighth round. A week later, during an in studio interview with HBO's Larry Merchant, Douglas agreed the protest and the ensuing confusion ruined what should have been one of the best times of his life. During that interview with both fighters, Merchant asked the first 4 questions of Tyson infuriating Douglas' management crew who stopped just short of walking out of the HBO studios. Tyson was less than gracious and alluded to the knockdown controversy saying "If Buster thinks he's Heavyweight Champion...that's OK...we'll do it again".

After the upset[edit | edit source]

Main article: Buster Douglas vs. Evander Holyfield

While still Champion, Douglas appeared on the February 23, 1990 episode of the World Wrestling Federation's "WWF The Main Event", as special guest referee for a rematch between Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Originally, Mike Tyson was scheduled to be the guest referee, but following the upset, the WWF scrambled to sign on Douglas for the event. At the end of the match, Douglas was provoked into a 'storyline' punch and knockout of Savage, who was the 'heel' wrestler in the match.

The defeated Tyson clamored for a rematch and Douglas was offered more money than he had ever made before for a fight. Not wanting to deal with Tyson's camp or his promoter Don King, Douglas decided to make his first defense against #1 contender Evander Holyfield, who had watched the new champion dethrone Tyson from ringside in Tokyo. Douglas came into the October 25, 1990 fight at 246 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than he was for the Tyson match and also the heaviest he'd weighed in for a fight since a 1985 bout with Dion Simpson, in which he tipped the scale at just over 247 pounds.

In the third round of the fight, Douglas attempted to hit Holyfield with a hard uppercut that he telegraphed. Holyfield avoided the uppercut and hit an off-balance Douglas with a straight right to the chin to knock him down. Douglas did not get up from the punch and lost his championship, electing to retire after the fight.

Later career[edit | edit source]

Douglas vs Holyfield was a reported $24.6 million payday for Buster, though years later he said on the Howard Stern show he walked away with $1.5 million after taxes, managers, trainers, etc. In that same interview he said he received $1.3 million for the Tyson win, but for the same reasons netted $15,000. Doing little for the next several years, Buster gained weight, reaching nearly 400 pounds. It was only after Douglas nearly died during a diabetic coma that he decided to attempt a return to the sport. He went back into training and made a comeback. He was successful at first, winning 6 straight fights, but his comeback almost came to a halt in a 1997 disqualification win over journeyman Louis Monaco. In a bizarre ending, Monaco landed a right hand, just after the bell ending round one, that knocked Douglas to the canvas. Douglas was unable to continue after a five-minute rest period and was consequently awarded the win by disqualification (on account of Monaco's illegal punch).

A fight with light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones, Jr. was touted in the late 1990s, although ultimately fell through.[8] In 1998 Douglas was knocked out in the first round of a fight with heavyweight contender Lou Savarese. Douglas subsequently had two more fights, winning both, and retired in 1999 with a final record of 38-6-1.

Film and game[edit | edit source]

Douglas made his feature film acting debut in the Artie Knapp science fiction comedy film Pluto's Plight.

Douglas was the star of the video game James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing for the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis. (In reality, Sega took a pre-existing game, Final Blow, changed the name, and changed one of the character's names to Douglas'). This game is considered as a response to Nintendo's Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, especially since Tyson lost to Douglas, which Sega took advantage in order to promote their early "Genesis does what Nintendon't" advertisements.

In 1995, HBO aired Tyson, a television movie based upon the life of Mike Tyson. Douglas was portrayed by actor Duane Davis.

Honors[edit | edit source]

Douglas is one of the few non-students to be honored by Ohio State University with the opportunity to dot the "i" during the performance of the Script Ohio by The Ohio State University Marching Band.[9]

Professional boxing record[edit | edit source]

38 Wins (25 knockouts), 6 Losses, 1 Draw, 1 No Contest [1]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Win 38-6-1
1 NC
United States Andre Crowder TKO 1 (10) February 19, 1999 United States Memorial Auditorium, Burlington, Iowa United States
Win 37-6-1
1 NC
United States Warren Williams KO 1 (10) December 12, 1998 United States Bank of America Center, Boise, Idaho, United States
Loss 36-6-1
1 NC
United States Lou Savarese KO 1 (12) June 25, 1998 United States Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, United States The vacant IBA Heavyweight title was on the line.
Win 36-5-1
1 NC
United States Quinn Navarre TKO 4 (10) July 13, 1997 United States Grand Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi, United States
Win 35-5-1
1 NC
United States Louis Monaco DQ 1 (10) May 13, 1997 United States Grand Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi, United States Monaco was disqualified for knocking Douglas out after the bell to end round one.
Win 34-5-1
1 NC
United States Brian Scott KO 6 (10) March 30, 1997 United States Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, United States
Win 33-5-1
1 NC
United States Dicky Ryan UD 10 February 12, 1997 United States MSG Theater, New York, New York, United States
Win 32-5-1
1 NC
United States Rocky Pepeli UD 10 January 10, 1997 United States Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, United States
Win 31-5-1
1 NC
United States Tony LaRosa TKO 4 (12) June 22, 1996 United States Mark Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States LaRosa stopped on cuts after the 3rd round.
Loss 30-5-1
1 NC
United States Evander Holyfield KO 3 (12) October 25, 1990 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Lost The Ring, WBC, WBA and IBF World Heavyweight titles.
In the 3rd round Douglas was caught with a counter right hook from Holyfield that put him down.
Win 30-4-1
1 NC
United States Mike Tyson KO 10 (12) February 11, 1990 22x20px Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan Won The Ring, WBC, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight titles. Douglas entered the contest as a 42-1 underdog.
This fight was named upset of the year by The Ring.
Win 29-4-1
1 NC
United States Oliver McCall UD 10 July 21, 1989 United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 28-4-1
1 NC
Canada Trevor Berbick UD 10 February 25, 1989 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 27-4-1
1 NC
United States Mike Williams TKO 7 (10) June 27, 1988 United States Convention Hall, Newark, New Jersey, United States
Win 26-4-1
1 NC
United States Jerry Halstead TKO 9 (10) April 16, 1988 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 25-4-1
1 NC
United States Percell Davis RTD 9 (10) February 24, 1988 United States Pioneer Hall, Duluth, Minnesota, United States Davis fails to answer the bell starting the 10th round.
Win 24-4-1
1 NC
United States Donnie Long KO 2 (10) November 19, 1987 United States Downtown Sheraton, Columbus, Ohio, United States Long was a late sub for David Pearce.
Loss 23-4-1
1 NC
United States Tony Tucker TKO 10 (15) May 30, 1987 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States For vacant IBF Heavyweight title.
Win 23-3-1
1 NC
United States Dee Collier UD 10 September 6, 1986 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 22-3-1
1 NC
United States David Jaco UD 10 April 19, 1986 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Jaco was knocked down in round 5.
Win 21-3-1
1 NC
United States Greg Page UD 10 January 17, 1986 United States The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia (U.S. state), United States
Loss 20-3-1
1 NC
United States Jesse Ferguson MD 10 May 9, 1985 United States Caesars Boardwalk Regency, Newark, New Jersey, United States Final of the ESPN Eastern Heavyweight tourney.
Win 20-2-1
1 NC
United States Dion Simpson KO 1 (10) March 27, 1985 United States Resorts International, Newark, New Jersey, United States Semi-final of the ESPN Eastern Heavyweight tourney.
Win 19-2-1
1 NC
United States Randall Cobb MD 10 November 9, 1984 United States Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Douglas substituted on 3 days notice for Trevor Berbick.
NC 18-2-1
1 NC
United States David Starkey NC 1 (10) July 9, 1984 United States East Dallas Club, Columbus, Ohio, United States Fight ruled a NC after the fighters wrestled each other to the canvas and both corners jumped into the ring.
Loss 18-2-1 United States Mike White TKO 9 (10) December 17, 1983 United States Sands Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Scoring in rounds at time of stoppage: 8-0, 7-1, 7-0-1 Douglas.
Win 18-1-1 United States Eugene Cato TKO 1 (8) September 28, 1983 United States Sands Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 17-1-1 United States Dave Johnson MD 10 July 5, 1983 United States Sands Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 16-1-1 United States Henry Porter TKO 2 (8) April 28, 1983 United States Sands Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 15-1-1 United States Jesse Clark KO 2 (8) April 16, 1983 United States Catholic Central Highschool, Muskegon, Michigan, United States
Win 14-1-1 United States Leroy Diggs TKO 7 (10) March 29, 1983 United States Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Muskegon, Michigan, United States
Win 13-1-1 United States Jesse Clark KO 2 (8) March 9, 1983 United States V.I.P. Club, Niles, Ohio, United States
Win 12-1-1 United States Tim Johnson KO 1 (8) November 20, 1982 United States Infinity Club, Columbus, Ohio, United States
Draw 11-1-1 22x20px Steffen Tangstad PTS 8 October 16, 1982 United States Bismarck Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, United States Douglas was penalised two points.
Win 11–1 United States Mel Daniels TKO 1 (6) April 24, 1982 United States War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 10–1 United States Rick Enis UD 6 April 8, 1982 United States Sherwood Club, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Win 9–1 United States Marvin Earle TKO 2 (6) February 15, 1982 United States Stan & Ollie's Lounge, Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States
Win 8–1 United States Donny Townsend UD 6 February 13, 1982 United States Stan & Ollie's Lounge, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States Townsend fought as Don Watkins.
Win 7–1 United States Hubert Adams KO 1 (6) January 23, 1982 United States Stan & Ollie's Lounge, McConnelsville, Ohio, United States
Win 6–1 United States Don Johnson TKO 3 (6) December 23, 1981 United States Memorial Civic Center, Canton, Ohio, United States
Loss 5–1 United States David Bey TKO 2 (4) November 6, 1981 United States Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 5–0 United States Jesse Clark KO 3 (4) October 23, 1981 United States Swayne Hall, Toledo, Ohio, United States
Win 4–0 United States Jesse Clark TKO 5 (6) October 14, 1981 United States Tyndall Armory, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States Muhaymin was cut over both eyes.
Win 3–0 United States Mike Rodgers TKO 3 (4) September 27, 1981 United States Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio, United States Sometimes reported as Douglas' pro debut, his earlier fights being exhibitions.
Rodgers fails to answer the bell starting the 3rd round.
Win 2–0 United States Mike Lear UD 4 July 24, 1981 United States Mount Vernon Plaza, Columbus, Ohio, United States
Win 1–0 United States Dan O'Malley TKO 3 (4) May 31, 1981 United States Mount Vernon Plaza, Columbus, Ohio, United States Fought with headgear. CBZ lists this as exhibition.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Men's Basketball Hall of Fame". Coffeyville Community College. http://www.ccc.cc.ks.us/athletics/menshoops/halloffame.htm. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  2. "A changed Buster Douglas reconnects with true self". Dayton Daily News. http://www.daytondailynews.com/dayton-sports/a-changed-buster-douglas-reconnects-with-true-self-1211778.html. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  3. Arabic Eurosport: اغتيال الملاكم السوري غياث طيفور برصاص مسلحين (in Arabic)
  4. Long, Bill (2007). Tyson-Douglas: The Inside Story of the Upset of the Century. Potomac Books. pp. 122–124.
  5. "Timeline James "Buster" Douglas". The Columbus Dispatch. 2007-06-08. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/extras/0607/douglas.html. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
  6. Anderson, Dave (1990-02-12). "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Referee's Count Is What Counts". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CEFDB103DF931A25751C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  7. "Buster Douglas on the Tyson vs Douglas fight". boxingmemories.com. http://boxingmemories.com/2011/04/14/boxing-news-buster-douglas-%E2%80%9Ci-thought-tyson-was-getting-up-until-i-had-seen-him-looking-for-that-mouth-piece-and-then-i-knew-that-he-was-really-hurt%E2%80%9D/. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
  8. "Will He Be A Tyson Chicken?". Sports Illustrated. 1998-05-04. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1012746/index.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  9. The "i"-Dot Tradition, OSU Marching and Athletic Bands Online

External links[edit | edit source]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Mike Tyson
Undisputed Heavyweight Boxing Champion (WBA, WBC, IBF)
The Ring Heavyweight Champion

11 Feb 1990 – 25 Oct 1990
Succeeded by
Evander Holyfield

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