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30 years ago this month...
(formerly the Western Mass. Golden Gloves)
"Iron" Mike Tyson, then just sixteen years old and known to fans at the Holyoke Boys Club as "The Tank," won the heavyweight title at our local Golden Gloves tournament, the Western Massachusetts Golden Gloves, back in February of 1983 with a first round stoppage in the finals over Jimmy Johnson of Springfield.
The Springfield Morning-Union, February 14, 1983: "The Western Mass. heavyweight representative next week is Mike Tyson, a nationally ranked amateur from Albany who kayoed Jimmy Johnson of the Springfield YMCA at 2:35 of the third round.
The game Johnson, clearly less ringwise than his veteran opponent, took a hard shot to the head just before the fighters were about to fall into a clinch. He crumpled to the floor and referee Matt Mullaney, seeing Johnson was in big trouble, halted the bout."
Mike's victory over Johnson qualified him to advance to the New England Golden Gloves tournament of Champions in Lowell where he scored a semi-final stoppage win over Lowell's James Bisson.
"One guy who should turn pro tomorrow is Mike Tyson, a super heavyweight who at just 16 years of age has National Championship potential. He is an absolute monster in the ring as Lowell's Jimmy Bisson found out last night when the Holyoke fighter staggered him early in the round with short uppercuts then kept after him until the referee stopped the bout 42 seconds into the first round. His fight with James Rayburn should be worth the price of admission tonight. Rayburn, who puts the super in super heavyweight had his face painted with his own blood by Eugene Williams of Southern New England before turning into a tiger in the third round, chasing and pounding Williams all over the ring as the crowd went crazy. He became a cult figure in six minutes. Rayburn brought back memories of Harold "Mountain Man" Rice to some although one fan likened him to the Humphrey character in the old Joe Palooka comic strip. Either way, though, he'll have his hands full with Tyson tonight." - Lowell Sun, February, 1983
Mike wasn't able to take part in what would have easily been the most anticipated match of the tournament when he won the NEGG title by walkover after Rayburn was forced to pull out of the fight due to an injury received in his own semi-final match the night before.
The Lowell Sun carried this recap the following day:
"Tyson won by default over Jim Rayburn of Vermont and that was probably a good thing for Rayburn because Tyson is a buzzsaw who, although he has only had twelve amateur bouts (according to his trainers), looks like a legitimate national championship contender this year."
Mike subsequently was disqualified from the New England team before they went to the nationals (Johnny Duke figured out Mike wasn't a New England resident), however, because as a resident of Catskill, N.Y. he was not able to represent Lowell and New England in a national tournament (just as Rochester, New York resident Charles "The Natural" Murray would be disqualified in 1986 for the same reason after he captured the N.E. 139 pound title with decision victories over Mike Culbert and Pat Ireland).
Tyson did capture a National Golden Gloves title the following year, though, while representing New York State (Syracuse) on his way to the 201 pound crown.
And, for what it is worth, I have often read people say that "Mike Tyson didn't excel as an amateur because he had too much of a pro style" and they point to his two losses at the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials to Henry Tillman as some kind of proof of this. They say that "amateur scoring didn't suit him," etc., but what people need to realize is that not only was Tyson a highly accomplished amateur boxer but it is also likely a thing where the average person doesn't truly have any idea at all what Tyson had to go through just to even get to that Olympic team deciding fight with Tillman in 1984??
First of all, Tyson was a two-time National Junior Olympic Champion, a National Golden Gloves Champion (1984) and an Ohio State Fair champion (in 1983) who on the way to these and other titles defeated stand out amateur boxers such as Jonathon Littles (twice by stoppage), Jerry Goff, Kilbert "Junior" Pierce, Derek Isaman, Orbit Pough, Warren Thompson, Avery Rawls, Olian Alexander, Henry Milligan, and Winston Bent (He stopped Littles, Goff and Milligan). Add in the fact that Mike also scored a decision over top European (and world rated) Hakan Brock in an International bout and you have quite the impressive resume.
Those accomplishments and victories certainly signify a stellar amateur career (that he put together in an era when national competition was particularly fierce) and the revealing of such should put to rest any notion that Tyson somehow "wasn't a good amateur fighter."
Last edited by ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY; 01-31-2013 at 10:55 AM.