At fist glance Buster Douglas is perhaps a strange choice for inclusion as one of my sporting greats and even I didn’t think he would earn a place when I began to put this list together. Having said that, Buster does deserve his place in history because of one memorable night when he showed the world what a truly focused man can achieve if he refuses to except defeat.
There are no prises for guessing that the night in question is the one he fought the formidable Mike Tyson for the heavyweight title and shocked us all by winning despite being a 42-1 underdog.
It is true that since the fight much has been made of the fact that Tyson had by then gone of the rails and didn’t train properly and had also lost some of his interest in boxing and although this is all true Douglas still deserves every body’s total respect for what he accomplished that night.
Let’s remember that going into the fight Tyson had such an air of invincibility about him that most of the fighters who faced him were so intimidated by his ferocious aggression that they had accepted defeat before they even got into the ring.
However, cometh the hour cometh the man and James Buster Douglas stepped up to the plate. Douglas who had had a good but not great career before the fight and one that is not even worth talking about after it, was a man on a mission on that February night in Tokyo and his performance is a perfect display of what can be accomplished when a man enters the zone.
From early in the first round it was apparent that something special could take place as unlike all his predecessors Buster showed no sign of fear or caution and was surprisingly quite happy to take the fight to the champion.
Fast forward to round eight and not only was Douglas still in with a shot but was actually winning the fight comfortably. then came what seemed inevitable and Tyson caught Buster with a peach of a right uppercut and down he went. However, because of Douglas’s indestructible spirit not only couldn’t Tyson capitalize on this but in the ninth he found himself in trouble.
Then in round ten came one of the biggest sporting shocks of modern times when the seemingly invincible Tyson went down and was counted out.
Taking all things leading up to the fight into consideration it is undeniable that Buster Douglas wasn’t fighting a Mike Tyson in his prime, but then again, by his own admission Tyson hadn’t trained properly for several fights before this and that hadn’t stopped him making short work of those opponents.
The key to what happened that night is how the sad death of his mother 23 days before the fight didn’t send Buster of the rails as might be expected but instead turned him into a truly awesome, focused, fighting machine who refused to quite.
In fact when comparing Buster Douglas to all the great heavyweights in history I think it is fair to say that he wouldn’t be high up on most experts’ lists but at the same time it is also true that on that particular night most of histories great heavyweights would have struggled to beat him.
So my advice to anyone seeking some inspiration is watch the fight again and bare witness to how an iron will can win against all the odds.
Read about other sporting heroes Here.