Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell Begins His Heavyweight Career

By Carla Peay
Updated: February 28, 2007

Amateur Heavyweight Boxer Seth Mitchell

Amateur Heavyweight Boxer Seth Mitchell

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Seth Mitchell says he believes he can become the Heavyweight Champion of the World, he isn’t being boastful. There’s just something about the tone of voice of this deeply spiritual and grounded young man that tells you his belief isn’t about pride or ego.

Those closest to him say he has a tireless work ethic, tunnel vision focus, and a no-nonsense dedication to his new found sport. And a freight train like left hook.

Mitchell’s manager, Sharif Salim, has brought in more than one experienced boxer to spar with Mitchell. Many of them have found themselves looking up from the canvas wondering if anyone in the gym caught the license plate number.

“I’ve been around the fight game since 1959. I’ve never seen a prospect like this guy. First of all, the combination, the package is so beautiful. He’s the ideal size for today’s modern heavyweight.”

“You have to be a little taller to face those giants that are coming at you, and also tall enough to see over your man’s punches,” Salim said.

Mitchell stands 6-foot-2 and weighs in at around 250 pounds. He began training to become a boxer in October, and in a few short months, has made remarkable progress.

In his first few weeks, Mitchell had already mastered punch combinations, improved his footwork, and developed a solid technique on the speed bag that often takes new fighters months to grasp.

But his physical gifts are only a part of what makes him something special.

“First and foremost, he has the heart of a champion, and that is innate. You cannot teach that. And his work ethic is beyond belief,” said Salim, who recounted the many times that Mitchell, told to show up at 5 a.m. for training, often arrived by 4:30.

But despite such effusive praise, Mitchell takes nothing for granted, not his athletic ability, his faith, nor the fickle fortunes of fate that seem to take us all down one path, before sharply curtailing down another.

A few short years ago, Mitchell was an All-American middle linebacker at Michigan State University, on a full athletic scholarship. A dominant force in the Big Ten Conference, Mitchell had NFL Scouts knocking on his doorstep, his future in pro football all but guaranteed. Until one day when his left knee started to hurt.

“I never really got hurt; I just had this chronic pain in my left knee. Over the years it just got progressively worse.”

Determined to do everything in his power to resume his playing career, Mitchell opted to undergo a painful operation which he was told had a recovery time of 12 to 18 months.

Mitchell described the 11 days following the surgery as the most excruciating pain he’d ever felt in his life. He returned to the playing field after just 11 months.

“I’m the type of person that if I can’t give it 100 percent, I don’t want to do it at all. I was embarrassed at the way I was playing compared with how I’d been playing before.”

“People said I was doing a great job when I came back from the surgery, but within myself, I just knew I wasn’t the same”, Mitchell said. He made a life changing decision to give up football.

“It really wasn’t a tough decision to put football behind me, because I knew in my heart that I did everything that I could to play. So once I said I was done, I was done”, Mitchell said.

Although football was behind him, Mitchell valued the importance of completing his education, and went on to graduate from Michigan State, earning his degree in criminal justice and security management.

Upon returning home to Maryland, Mitchell began to ponder his future.

“I had my degree, but I knew I wouldn’t really be happy unless I was involved in sports,” Mitchell said. His next life altering decision came one Saturday afternoon while watching television.

“There was a boxing match on television, and there was a football player from Notre Dame who is also a boxer. I remembered playing against him. During the summer, he had a match in Vegas and won a first round knockout. I thought, ‘I could beat him’. That’s when I decided I was going to box,” Mitchell said.

His decision made, Mitchell contacted Maurice Banks, who had been his offensive coordinator in high school, where he earned honors as defensive player of the year, player of the year, all county and all met as a senior at Gywnn Park High School in Brandywine, Maryland.

“When I made up my mind to pursue boxing, I called Coach Banks. He’s been like a father figure to me. I didn’t want to have to worry about my manager not doing what was in my best interest.”

“I want to get in the gym, train, get better, and not have to look over my shoulder to make sure he’s doing his job right,” Mitchell said.

Banks serves as Mitchell’s advisor and mentor. When Mitchell told him he wanted to become a boxer, Banks put in a call to his own mentor, Sharif Salim. One look at Mitchell in the ring, and Salim came on board as his manager. Team Mitchell was born.

“I just think he’s an incredible young man. When he sets his mind to something, he’s going to succeed. He has all the qualities of dedication, integrity and commitment. In the ring, I see a tough kid with a very bright future,” Banks said.

Mitchell retained a trainer, Andre Hunter, and follows a strict training schedule. He trains every evening and spars at least twice a week. His first heavyweight amateur fight is scheduled for early March.

His goals are simple. Golden Gloves Champion. Olympic Champion. Heavyweight Champion of the World.

“There’s a competitive nature inside me. I get an adrenaline rush from competing, and I truly believe that God has blessed me with the athletic ability to do this,” Mitchell said.

“If I didn’t think I could become world champion, I wouldn’t delve into this at all. I think I’ll do well as long as I stay dedicated and focused and stay humble.”