Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Advice From A Father to His Son: Do Not Let Your Fears Get The Best Of You

By Peter Silkov

Buster Mathis and his son Buster Mathis Jr. are a father and son who both had substantial careers as heavyweight boxers. Mathis Sr. was born in Grand Rapids Michigan, on June 11, 1943, was an outstanding amateur boxer, and if the fates had been kinder, could have been Olympic champion. In 1964, Mathis scored two impressive wins over Joe Frazier and looked all set to go to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Bad luck intervened and a broken hand meant that Buster was forced to pull out of the Olympics and instead, he watched as Frazier went in his place, and duly won the gold medal. Mathis turned professional soon after his Olympic disappointment and put together a respectable string of victories under the guidance of Cus D’Amato. Mathis was a large man who stood 6’ feet 4” and during his amateur career weighed in at over 300 pounds. Despite this bulk, Mathis was an extraordinarily fast and fluid boxer, with a good jab and decent power. However, he was unlucky in that he was operating at a time where the heavyweight division was blessed with the greatest talent that it has ever seen in its history.

At the beginning of his career, Mathis weighed 300 pounds, but over the course of the next three years he worked off much of this poundage. After 23 wins in 23 fights, Mathis Sr. faced Joe Frazier on March 4, 1968, for Frazier’s New York State World heavyweight championship, but after a tough fight, found himself stopped in the 11th round. Mathis bounced back with a run of victories, including his career best win, on February 3, 1969, a point’s victory over the rugged George Chuvalo, after a wildly exciting fight. In his next fight, Mathis was beaten on points by Jerry Quarry and then stayed out of the ring for over two years. On his return, Mathis was facing ‘The Greatest’ himself, Muhammad Ali, and hindered by inactivity and a weight gain, Mathis found himself out-classed by Ali, but showed a lot of heart to last the distance, for a point’s defeat. Mathis had had two more fights, a comeback win over Claude McBride, was followed by a 2nd round knockout loss to the big-punching Ron Lyle. Mathis did not fight again, retiring with a record of 30(21koes)-4.

Mathis is often talked about regarding his weight, and sometimes ridiculed for this, but the truth is, that he was a very talented heavyweight boxer who just happened to operate at a time when the opposition was extraordinarily talented.

Buster Mathis Jr.was born on March 24, 1970, and took up boxing like his father had in order to boost his self confidence and fight back against the school bullies who ridiculed him because of his weight. Although shorter than his father, at 6 foot, Mathis Jr. shared his father’s heavy build, but also had the fast hands and fluidity, which seemed to belie his size. Turning professional in 1991, Mathis scored good wins over top contenders Carl Williams and Tyrell Biggs, but a fight with Riddick Bowe ended in controversy when he was hit and knocked out after going down onto one knee, and the fight was eventually ruled a no-contest. On December 16, 1996, Mathis Jr. faced Mike Tyson and after a good start was knocked out in the 3rd round. Mathis Jr. had two more contests and retired after being stopped in 7 rounds by Lou Savarese. Mathis Jr. retired with a 21(7koes)-2

Since retiring, Buster Mathis Jr. has formed the Buster Mathis Foundation, in memory of his father, who died in 1995. The foundation aims to make a positive difference for youths in foster care.
The objective of the Buster Mathis Foundation:

-To work with school systems and identify client-students that are motivated to enter the skilled trades.
-To counsel client-students on the merits and opportunities of entering the skilled trades.
-To instill pride and confidence in client-students who choose skilled trades rather than college.
-To assist client-students in acquiring quality training and apprenticeships in selected skilled trades.
-To develop entrepreneurial skills in client-students that plan to operate trade-based businesses.

Action Plan:
-Establish collaborative relationships with school systems throughout Michigan.
-Evaluate and certify high-quality skilled trades training institutions.
-Provide professional career counseling and physical training for client-students.
-Work with labor unions and businesses to acquire apprenticeship opportunities for client –students.
-Provide financial assistance based on motivation, commitment and need.
If you would like to learn more about the Buster Mathis Foundation check them out on Facebook.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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