‘Buster’ Douglas to appear at Purgatory Fight Series in ToledoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
About two decades ago, James “Buster” Douglas pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports.
No, not his incredible 1990 knockout of Mike Tyson — a fight in which he was such an underdog that many casinos refused to even lay odds. This was an even more lopsided fight: Douglas’ struggle to return to the ring after coming close to death in 1994.
Diagnosed with diabetes in the years following his win over Tyson, the former heavyweight champion of the world nearly died during the three days he was in a diabetic coma. As he recovered, though, he was determined to step into the ring once more.
“It was very comforting, to tell you the truth, man. It was just a thing where I was back in my comfort zone. And that was really helping me make it, make a really strong and speedy recovery,” Douglas said in an interview with Toledo Free Press.
“Without boxing, it would have been a lot more difficult for me. Because dealing with diabetes, you have to be very disciplined. And, you know, getting back into training and getting back into boxing was helpful, because that’s a big part of our sport. It meant even more to me when I got back into it on a serious level, and that really helped me maintain and come through it a lot easier.”
Nowadays, Douglas is all about giving back to the sport which he feels saved his life. He is serving as a spokesman for the Purgatory Fight Series, which will host both boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) events in Toledo this month.
“It’s great, man. I really feel good about it. You know, it brings back a lot of great memories, from back when I started. Now, I’m on the other end —doing the training, giving the advice and helping out another individual. It’s a really good feeling,” Douglas said.
The pair of Purgatory Fight events kicks off with an evening of MMA on Dec. 7 at the Huntington Center, then an All Pro Boxing card on Dec. 21 at the Grand Plaza Hotel.
“I’m all behind a good organization that’s providing good entertainment and helping young men advance their careers, and that’s what this is all about. You know, just giving back what I got out of it, basically, for me. Helping to see another individual rise to stardom is very rewarding,” Douglas said.
Now that he’s overseeing others as they begin their careers, Douglas said the biggest piece of advice he has to give is simply to gain experience — which is how events like the Purgatory Fight Series can really help a young fighter.
“Early in my career, we were fighting in ballrooms, little [venues] like that where they can hold 400-500 people, places like that. Venues were very scarce where you could go about displaying your abilities and talents. But now, they’ve got these casinos and a lot of different other venues, you know, to showcase their talents before they get to the venues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City,” Douglas said.
“One, it gives them an opportunity to fight. Then, you know, to display their talents. It’s just like a real warm-up, a good warm-up for them for the big show. When you go to the big shows, the crowds are a lot larger, the venues are a lot larger as well. It’s just a good warm-up to where you’ll be kinda used to it once you get up into the big lights, it won’t be such a mind-blowing experience.”
It’s a different world in combat sports now than it was when Douglas first laced up his gloves in the early 1980s. The rise of MMA in the past 10 years has added more options for those looking to break in as a fighter, but Douglas insists that there’s still room for both boxing and MMA. But if MMA had existed way back when, could Douglas see himself heading in that direction?
“No, never, never, ever,” Douglas said emphatically. “I had a high school wrestling coach come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you want to come around?’ I said, ‘Nope!’”
But no matter what a fan’s taste, Douglas hopes Toledoans come out in droves to support the new faces looking to make a name for themselves Dec. 7 and 21.
“I encourage people to support ’em,” Douglas said. “It’s all about support, man, because you can never know how you’ll change a person.”