January 23, 2019
Olympic and Golden Glove boxer James Anthony "Bubba" Busceme was born in Beaumont and graduated in 1970 from South Park High School, where he lettered in track. But he became a boxer long before he lettered in track. He entered his first Golden Gloves competition in 1959 at the age of seven. Although he came in 57th, he remained steadfast and eventually became a five-time state Golden Gloves champion (1968-1972) and a four-time Golden Gloves National champion.
As a 16-year-old SPHS student and standout, he earned an invitation to compete at the United States Olympic trials, but declined. Watching fellow Texas and boxing rival Kenny Weldon, a boxer he'd beaten easily on several occasions, advance to the trials final on ABC's Wide World of Sports, Busceme came to the realization that he could be an Olympian.
In 1971, he won a bronze medal in the Pan American Games. In peak condition, he swept through his first two Olympic preliminary rounds. Then he faced his first Eastern Block fighter in the quarterfinals. He punished Szczepanski for three rounds, bruising the Polish fighter and knocking him down twice. But the judges from Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union judged Szczepanski the superior fighter in a 3-2 decision. The crowd erupted in jeers. Busceme was quickly escorted from the ring. The U.S. team decided not to protest the outcome despite five of their boxers being dealt bad decisions. Angry by the outcome, Busceme retired from amateur boxing.
He boxed professionally from 1974-1976. Re-entering the ring in 1979, after a short break, he remained active in pro ranks until 1983. He is best remembered for his 1982 WBC world championship title fight with Alexis Arguello in Beaumont.
This information is courtesy of the Beaumont Enterprise.