Slamma from ‘Bama
Published 12:53 am Thursday, August 9, 2012
Byron “Gator” Mitchell sat in his living room and pointed over to his son, Byron Mitchell Jr.
“That’s me right there,” he said when asked about himself.
Mitchell, 38, also known as the “Slamma from Bama,” will fight for the 2012 Light Heavyweight Boxing World Championship Title in September and the Opp resident doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
He said the reason he’s fighting in another World Championship is because of his son.
“That little man right here,” Mitchell said about his son, whom he calls Junior. “I’m that man’s sunshine. I’m his everything.
“I know he’s my dependent, but to have someone look up to you like that, it’s like I’m his super hero,” he said. “I can’t let him down. By these two (Mitchell’s son and his wife, Chasity) believing in me, it motivates me more than I can say.”
He said he has a fighter already lined up as his opponent in Lowell, Mass., boxer “Irish” Joe McCreedy.
“But in case we don’t get him, I’ve gotten word first that he initially declined on an opportunity, and I got word back that he wants to do it,” Mitchell said about McCreedy. “They’re taking me lightly. They’re thinking (I’m) old and washed up. I’m well-preserved.
“Now I’m back with my true family, I can see everything,” he said. “Junior, he’s older and big enough to where I can put him in a corner.”
Junior helps Mitchell with his research and even gets in the ring with him when he trains, which is usually during the week in Enterprise.
Mitchell began boxing when he was 16 years old in Ozark in 1990. He said he was in and out of trouble a lot in school, and got expelled his junior year.
Then, he said, he was invited to a local gym by a his friend Raymond Berry, and boxing has been his passion ever since.
“That was the start and I went every day after that,” Mitchell said. “The coach put me in with Raymond to get a feel of how good I would be. I guess he saw a little potential in me. He asked me to continue to come to the gym.”
Shortly afterward, Mitchell began fighting in the amateur division and his first two fights were in Decatur in the State Golden Gloves Tournament.
He won his first bout by decision and the second fight was a knock out.
“After my first two fights, I was the Alabama state champion within the amateur league,” he said.
In total, Mitchell fought in 116 amateur fights and he record was 102-14.
In 1996, when the Summer Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, Mitchell said he fought in the Olympic trials, but lost in the finals. He said he lost in a 7-7 tiebreaker.
“So, I just barely missed my opportunity to represent America (in the Olympics),” he said.
Falling short in the Olympic trials didn’t force Mitchell to hang up the gloves, but he admitted he was upset after the tiebreaker decision.
“I basically just wanted to come home,” he said. “She (Chasity) already had Junior when I was in college (at Northern Michigan University). Junior was only a few months old, and I just wanted to come home and be with him.
“I wanted to forget about boxing at the time,” he said. “I just wanted to be around family.”
After a few months away from boxing, Mitchell said his then promoter, Don King — who promoted boxing greats Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr., to name a few — pushed him to train harder than ever before.
“When we first signed with him, I didn’t think a great deal about it,” Mitchell said about working with King. “I knew I had a great opportunity. I knew I would get a chance to fight for a World Championship by signing with him.”
On June 12, 1999, Mitchell won his first Boxing World Championship in the super middleweight division against Frankie Liles.
Mitchell said he was chosen as Liles’ opponent.
“I was a huge underdog,” he said.
In his second Boxing World Championship win, Mitchell beat Manuel Siaca on March 3, 2001.
Since then, he has fought what he calls several “short-notice fights.”
“I took a bunch of fights that I wasn’t really properly perpared for them,” he said. “I lost a few fights along the way.”
But when he gets ready to face his next opponent for a try at his third Boxing World Championship, Mitchell said he’ll be ready.
Asked why he loves to box, Mitchell said it’s a good form of aggression management.
“Along with everybody else, we have our problems and a lot of people don’t have an outlet to express themselves,” he said. “This is my way of expressing that in a more positive way without causing any damage to my personality. So, it’s a big plus and I think that’s why I’ve progressed so much in it.”
“I’ve been in a world championship twice prior to this,” Mitchell said. “I never thought of it (the HOF). I never anticipated it. It all gives him (Junior) more incentive to not necessarily follow my foot steps, but to be great in boxing because it’s in his blood.”
Mitchell has another son, Kadyn, who is 5.