OKC Charity Fight Night
Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center
425 E. California
James "Buster" Douglas took part in one of the most significant events in boxing history when he toppled the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson with a 10th-round knockout on Feb. 11, 1990. The image of Tyson fumbling with his mouthpiece as he struggled to his feet lives on as the grim turning point for Tyson's career, and the beginning of Douglas' reign as undisputed heavyweight champion.
Douglas will be on hand Thursday at the Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center to help promote the annual OKC Charity Fight Night, a fundraiser for the Oklahoma City Police Athletic League.
Although Douglas is widely recognized as one of the great underdog figures in boxing history, he is quick to point out that he entered the fight as the No. 2 contender and it took impressive victories over quality opponents to take him from the streets of Columbus, Ohio, to the top ranks in the heavyweight division. He said he decided to lend a hand at the PAL fund-raiser because his own career started in similar youth leagues.
"Had it not been for youth programs that I was involved in coming up as a child, I wouldn't have become the man that I am today," Douglas said. "Boxing is something for kids to get involved in rather than going out in the streets and getting in trouble. It's something that can carry over in many different directions. Most of these kids won't turn professional, but boxing puts them on a positive track."
Douglas also is promoting his new book, "Buster's Backyard Bar-BQ: Knockout Diabetes Diet," which discusses his own struggle with weight gain following his career, as well as revealing some of the recipes that helped him get his diabetes under control.
He said he wasn't prepared for the lifestyle shift of retirement.
"I had a strict regimen as a professional fighter," he said. "Once I retired, there was a crazy period I went through. There was nothing I had to specifically look out for as far as maintaining weight. I thought it was normal eating what I pleased when I pleased. I didn't think it would come back and hurt me. It just got out of control."
After getting up to 400 pounds, he managed to trim back down to fighting weight and even returned to the ring in 1996. His second retirement came three years later after amassing a record of 38-6-1.
Douglas said if American fighters are going to ever reign atop the division again, then programs like PAL are important to draw in new talent and prepare them to compete. But the true value of the program is not turning kids into pro-quality boxers, but in exposing them to the wider world.
"Boxing shows there is more going on in the world rather being stuck on the streets," he said. "I see these kids first getting into the ring, and they remind me of what it was like for me when I was first trying, taking my first step to achieving my dream."