Buster Douglas: new lease on life -- and a cookbook

Fri, Feb 12
2:46
PM ET

Boxing fans will remember Feb. 11, 1990, as the day the life of James "Buster" Douglas changed. That's when the unknown from Columbus, Ohio, knocked out Mike Tyson to become the world heavyweight boxing champion in one of the biggest upsets in history.

But for Douglas, July 1994 is a more important time. That's when he went into a diabetic coma for three days and came out a new man.

"It changed my life instantly," said Douglas, whose father died of complications caused by diabetes. "I stood at death's door and I was given a second chance."

After beating Tyson, Douglas -- who had a boxing record of 38-6-1 -- did everything you can imagine. Girls, drugs, alcohol and food. He ballooned to 400 pounds. He couldn't even remember where he was at times, and he definitely didn't remember all he drank.

But the coma changed his life. He stopped drinking. He started to watch what he ate. And he started to give back to the world in which he had been so blessed.

"I had the opportunity to change. Some people don't get that," said the 49-year-old Douglas, who is married and has returned to Columbus. "I'm excited for the future. I want to watch my grandchildren grow up. I have a new lease on life."

And he had time, along with his friend Tony Reynolds, to put out a cookbook -- "Buster's Backyard Bar-B-Q" -- to help people with diabetes.

"I can show you how to make delicious chicken with this homemade barbecue sauce," Douglas said. "Every day is still a fight when it comes to diabetes. But now I have something to live for."