BUSTER MATHIS/MUHAMMAD ALI
Houston Astrodome, Houston, TX
November 17, 1971
Ali won a 12-round unanimous decision
About Buster Mathis
Born June 5, 1943 in Sledge, MS
Resided in Grand Rapids, MI
Died September 6, 1995
Career record: 30 wins (21 KO), 4 defeats
A skinny kid who was picked on by classmates, Mathis said he woke up one day and "I was big", big enough to qualify for a spot on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics boxing team. Unfortunately, he was injured and wasn't able to compete. His replacement was Joe Frazier, the fighter that Mathis had beaten in the Olympic Trials. Mathis turned pro in 1965, and retired just four years later after losing to Jerry Quarry. He returned to fight Ali for the NABF belt in 1971, but lost on points in 12 rounds. Ali was often criticized for not finishing Mathis in the fight's final rounds.
Mathis suffered from many health problems in his later years, including diabetes and kidney problems. He was a compulsive eater whose weight ballooned to over 500 pounds, and he died of a heart attack at 52 years of age, just weeks before his son, Buster Jr., met Mike Tyson in the ring.