Buster Mathis


Buster Mathis

Buster Mathis (June 5, 1943 - September 6, 1995) had a very successful career as an amateur heavyweight boxer. He qualified for a spot in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, he was injured and was unable to compete there. Instead of him, the fighter Mathis beat in the Olympic Trials went to the Olympics. This fighter was the legendary Joe Frazier, and he went on to win the gold medal, which was ironic because Mathis had beaten Joe to qualify for the games.

Mathis turned professional in June 1965 with a second round knockout victory over Bob Maynard. Buster Mathis went on to win his next 22 contests as well and qualified for a shot at the World Heavyweight Title, which had become vacant after Muhammad Ali was stripped of the title for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. The fight was to be held March 4, 1968 in New York's Madison Square Garden and the fighter he had to beat for the championship was Joe Frazier, his old nemesis.

Mathis made a promising start to the contest but couldn't keep up with the lighter Frazier and lost the fight by an 11th round knockout.Buster Mathis continued to fight over the next couple of years, mostly winning but never able to win the really important fights, like a 1971 fight against Muhammad Ali which he lost by a 12 round points decision.

After Mathis was knocked out in three rounds in August 1972 by Ron Lyle, he decided to retire from boxing. Mathis suffered from various health problems in later years, such as diabetes and kidney problems. He suffered a heart attack and two strokes. His compulsive eating had ballooned his weight to 550 pounds and, in 1995, he died of a heart attack at age of 52.

He won 30 fights (21 by KO) and lost 4 (with Frazier, Jerry Quarry, Ali and Lyle).

His son Buster Mathis Jr. was to later become a successful fighter, and was to take on Mike Tyson in 1995. His son Cole, was born in China in 1992, in Shanghai.

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