Today the RedState Department of History goes to its sports wing to mark the anniversary of one of the greatest upsets in history.
No, it’s not the American hockey team’s shock win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, but an upset of nearly equal proportions.
On this date on 1990, James “Buster” Douglas did what many observers thought was impossible to do — he knocked out world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to claim the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world for himself.
Contrary to popular opinion, Douglas was no palooka. He entered the fight against Tyson with a record of 29-4-1 and had won his previous six bouts. However, in Tyson he was facing a fighter universally regarded as the best of his generation, a man whom no challenger had taken past the fifth round in over three years.
So long were the odds against Douglas that only one Vegas bookmaker — The Mirage — even put up odds for the fight, listing Douglas as a 42-1 underdog. To make matters worse, Douglas’ mother died 23 days before the fight.
But Douglas dominated, using his longer reach to frustrate Tyson. There was a moment of controversy in the eighth round when Tyson knocked down Douglas and the challenger used eight of the allotted ten-count before rising to his feet — but the referee’s count was not aligned with the timekeeper’s, meaning technically Douglas received a “long count”, which is to say, a count past ten. But the official count is kept by the referee, so Douglas remained in the fight.
In the tenth round, though, Douglas saw his superiority begin to tell, sending Tyson crashing to the canvas for a tenth-round KO that sent a shock wave through the sports world.
Douglas lasted only eight months as champion, losing his only title defense to Evander Holyfield in the third round, sending him into retirement for six years.
Douglas came back in 1996 and won eight of his final nine professional fights to finish his career 38-6-1 – and to be remembered as the man who knocked out “Iron” Mike Tyson.
There’s one other noteworthy, and fun, sports anniversary to mention today.
Ask yourself: what’s the rarest score to reach in bowling? Some will tell you that it’s 292, and it’s easy to see why: it requires 11 strikes in a row and then a two-count, which if you’ve ever bowled, you know is very hard to do (the strike part is hard for me!)
Most people who bowl 11 of the 12 consecutive strikes necessary for a perfect score of 300 miss one or two pins on their last ball, leaving a score of 298 or 299.
But on this date in 1905, a man named James Blackstone compiled a score that no one is likely to ever match. Bowling in Seattle, Blackstone bowled 11 straight strikes, needing only the last strike for a 300 game.
But his last ball cracked one of the pins, which broke in half — and the broken half remained standing. After some deliberation, officials decided to award Blackstone a score of 299 1/2 – the only known instance in the history of the sport. It was truly a different kind of “Buster”.
Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!