30 years ago, fighter faced impossible odds — now he seeks to inspire others

James "Buster" Douglas attends a news conference at the Ohio Statehouse to announce the "42 to 1" initiative in Columbus, Ohio. Douglas is marking the 30th anniversary of his upset boxing victory over Mike Tyson with a campaign aimed to inspire others who face long odds.
Caption
James "Buster" Douglas attends a news conference at the Ohio Statehouse to announce the "42 to 1" initiative in Columbus, Ohio. Douglas is marking the 30th anniversary of his upset boxing victory over Mike Tyson with a campaign aimed to inspire others who face long odds.

Credit: John Minchillo

Credit: John Minchillo

Buster Douglas touts stunning victory over Mike Tyson in charity work for at-risk youth

Buster Douglas will mark the 30th anniversary of his upset boxing victory over Mike Tyson with a campaign aimed at inspiring others who face long odds.

Douglas, 59, joined organizers at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday to announce a series of  "42 to 1" events framed around his unlikely 1990 victory to raise funds for workforce development, diversity and self-help programs for at-risk youth.

"The reason we're still here today talking about Buster's 42-1 upset fight with Mike Tyson is because it transcended sports," said two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, a backer of the effort. He said the bout proved "nothing is impossible if you possess iron will and great determination."

James "Buster" Douglas, right, hits Mike Tyson with a hard right in the face during their world heavyweight title bout at the Tokyo Dome on Feb. 11, 1990. Douglas is marking the 30th anniversary of his upset boxing victory over Tyson with a campaign aimed to inspire others who face long odds.
Caption
James "Buster" Douglas, right, hits Mike Tyson with a hard right in the face during their world heavyweight title bout at the Tokyo Dome on Feb. 11, 1990. Douglas is marking the 30th anniversary of his upset boxing victory over Tyson with a campaign aimed to inspire others who face long odds.

Credit: Sadayuki Mikami

Credit: Sadayuki Mikami

James "Buster" Douglas, a Columbus native, met Tyson, the reigning undisputed world heavyweight champion, in the ring in Tokyo on Feb. 11, 1990. Douglas prevailed in a stunning upset over a man feared for his prowess in the ring and considered the best boxer in the world at the time. He lost the title to Evander Holyfield that October. Holyfield spent most of his childhood in Atlanta.

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"I went into the fight only to win," Douglas said Wednesday, "never knowing it would come out to be something as spectacular as it has been over the years."

The Tyson-Douglas contest gained new attention with the release of an ESPN documentary, also titled "42 to 1," in December. ESPN plans to air the documentary and send some of its personalities to participate in a celebratory gala in February.

Champion Mike Tyson lies on his back after being decked by challenger James "Buster" Douglas, standing in background, as referee Octavio Meyron keeps counting in the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round heavyweight championship bout at the Tokyo Dome in 1990.
Caption
Champion Mike Tyson lies on his back after being decked by challenger James "Buster" Douglas, standing in background, as referee Octavio Meyron keeps counting in the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round heavyweight championship bout at the Tokyo Dome in 1990.

Credit: Mitsuru Sakai

Credit: Mitsuru Sakai

State Sen. Jay Hottinger, a Newark Republican, said a bill establishing a "James 'Buster' Douglas 42-to-1 Odds Day" is moving through the statehouse. It's among several official actions that governments are taking to mark the anniversary.

Hottinger said they give long-overdue recognition to Douglas, as well as serving to inspire all Ohioans who face tough odds.

»MORE: 5 best fights of Evander Holyfield's career

Among the effort's goals is to raise enough money for the Brightway Center, a Steubenville-based nonprofit serving at-risk youth, to expand its operations to central Ohio. Officials said Wednesday they hope to serve an additional 400 students with life skills coaching and mentoring services.

Other partners include Franklin University and MCS-T.O.U.C.H., a program that helps formerly incarcerated men and women gain life skills and find jobs.