Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell will take the biggest step of his thus far unconventional professional boxing career on Saturday, Dec. 10 against Timur Ibragimov in the co-featured bout to the "Capital Showdown: Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson" championship fight at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC .
The card will be televised live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing. Mitchell’s transformation from a standout linebacker at Michigan State University into a professional boxer is the most well-known part of his personal narrative. However, it is his raw athletic talent, coupled with certain serendipitous events that have led him to a promising career as a heavyweight pugilist.
"I’ve been very competitive throughout my whole life," Mitchell said. "I believe that God blesses each and every one of us with a particular gift or talent, and athletics is my gift and my talent."
Mitchell is the second oldest of five children born to Jeanette Mitchell. When he was 12 years old, he and his family moved from Virginia Beach, Va., to Brandywine, Md., to live with his grandparents. Little did he know that moving to Brandywine was the first event in a long line of fortunate occurrences that set Mitchell up for success.
"I don’t know what would have happened to me if I would have stayed in Virginia Beach," Mitchell said. "I witnessed a lot of abuse and negativity there. When we moved to Brandywine, there were 11 of us living in our grandparents’ house, but there was a lot of love there. If we hadn’t moved, I never would have met the influential people who have helped me get to where I am today."
While Mitchell was known as "Little Superstar" on the streets of his Virginia Beach neighborhood, he dreamed of becoming a star basketball player, but when he realized he would not grow to be tall enough for basketball greatness, he switched his focus to becoming a football player. He started as a freshman on the Gwynn Park High School football team. Eventually, Mitchell became an All-State and an All-American linebacker who was named the 2000 Associated Press Maryland Defensive Player of the Year. Upon graduation from high school, he received a full scholarship to Michigan State University (MSU) to play football.
During the 2003 season, Mitchell led the Spartans by averaging 10.6 tackles per game and was second on the team in defensive production despite missing the first two games of that year. He was a preseason All-Big Ten selection going into his junior year, but after an unfortunate series of knee injuries during his three-season tenure on the MSU football team, Mitchell decided to walk away from football.
"I was not at peace with myself at first," Mitchell said. "I had to go home, regroup with my mom, the Daniels [Mitchell’s godparents] and my mentor Maurice Banks to figure out what I was going to do next. I knew that I was going to be all right. I had my college degree [in Criminal Justice with a specialization in both Homeland Security and Security Management], but I was not ready to walk away from sports completely."
Perhaps one of the most important moments of Mitchell’s life came when he happened upon the televised pro boxing debut of current Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski. Mitchell immediately knew he had found a way to provide for himself and his then-pregnant wife-to-be. He left Michigan and returned to Maryland where he met his manager Sharif Salim and trainer Andre Hunter, who helped him set out on a heavyweight boxing career.
A quick learning curve rapidly paid off, as Mitchell went 9-1 in his amateur contests, with all of his victories coming via knockout. He began his professional career in 2008. After just one professional fight, he signed with Golden Boy Promotions, which he said was the most surprising and rewarding part of his journey thus far.
"I love the sport of boxing," Mitchell said. "I want to stay on this path and continue to provide for my family. Hopefully, that brings financial security along with winning the heavyweight championship."
He very well could be on his way. With a record of 23-0-1 (17 KO’s), Mitchell is an American heavyweight on the rise. A 2010 ESPN.com prospect to watch, he has been anointed as the United States’ best current hope for a heavyweight world champion.
"Seth Mitchell is a special fighter," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. "He doesn’t have the outside distractions that a lot of athletes have. He has a supportive wife, a strong team and a competitive edge that can take him far in the sport of boxing. I think December 10 is going to be a big coming out party for Seth Mitchell, and I can’t wait to see it."
November 21, 2011