Mitchell only met his dad three times before the man died in 2006. When Mitchell was 12, he and his family moved from Virginia Beach, Va., to Brandywine, to live with his grandparents.
At Gwynn Park, Mitchell was an outstanding football player, totaling more than 150 tackles, seven sacks and an amazing six interceptions as a high school senior on the way to leading the Yellow Jackets to a state runner-up finish and earning All-Metro honors for The Washington Post.
As a scholarship player at Michigan State, Mitchell averaged 10.6 tackles and ranked second on the team in 2003. A chronic knee injury prematurely ended Mitchell’s junior year at Michigan and plagued him for long after that.
Mitchell ended his football career, having already earned a degree in criminal justice, and was sparked to box after watching the professional debut of current Baltimore Ravens’ safety Tom Zbikowski in June of 2006.
Mitchell went 9-1 as an amateur, with all of his victories being by knockout, and signed with Golden Boy Promotions after his first professional bout in 2006.
“I’ve had a lot of things happen in my life. I grew up fast, but I believe that everything happens for a reason,” said Mitchell. “This is just exciting to see where I’m at and to see where I came from.”
In a heavyweight division dominated by the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs) and Vitali Klitschko (43-2, 40 KOs), Mitchell, nicknamed, “Mayhem,” is considered to be America’s best chance at ending its heavyweight championship drought.
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO’s strap. In 2006, Hasim Rahman of Baltimore held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd.
Mitchell’s story makes him a man worth rooting for, as well as a man many in the Washsington, D.C. area can relate to.
“In Seth Mitchell, you know, here’s a guy that started off almost in a homeless condition in Virginia Beach. Through the efforts of his mom and his family and the support coming together, it also took an incredible fortitude inside of himself. Seth wanted to make something of himself, and he wanted to make his people proud,” said Mitchell’s manager, Sharif Salim.
“He’s a guy with a strong work ethic and high morals. Good character. His testament is that if you really put your mind to something, it can happen. Pluse he’s an excellent athlete who has a degree and he’s a former classroom teacher and he has the look and the stature. You don’t have to worry about him getting pulled over by the police or using recreational drugs.”
Salim said Mitchell has in the works a reading and mentoring program called “Books Not Bullies,” which addresses the issue of bullying.
“If you have a pure heart and you’re a good person, you know, I’m big on morals, I just think that’s what kids can see. When you see me, what you see is what you get. I’m a different animal when I’m inside the ring,” said Mitchell.
“But outside of the ring, I’m proud of myself because I feeel that I’m going about it the right way and I’m taking the necessary steps and showing a positive image. This is not a facade. This is not fake. This is me. So I think that that’s a message that young kids can get.”
SEATING GOING FAST?
About 700 seats are left in a configuration for 9,100 or so.
“We’re basically down to just the higher-priced seats. All of the cheaper seats are gone. On Friday, once HBO gets its set up solidified, we’re hoping that we can open up some seats in a kill status right now because you have to hold seats for camera kills,” said Itskowitch.
“Once the platform goes in, we’ll walk it off and give people an opportunity at some more cheaper seats. Normally, you get the fightweek burst, but we’ve had consistent sales the entire time.”
Photos by Delane Rouse, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com