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Q&A With Heavyweight Boxer Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell

The local football player-turned-heavyweight boxer talks about his nickname origins, starting boxing in his twenties, and how he knows he can be a champ

Seth Mitchell, a former football player at Gwynn Park High School, after his December 2010 win over Taurus Sykes. His record is now 22-0-1. Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions/Team Mitchell

Heavyweight boxer Seth Mitchell starred as a football player at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine before a chronic knee condition derailed his college career at Michigan State. Now, three and a half years after stepping into a boxing ring for the first time, the Prince George’s County native is on the cusp of contention for the heavyweight boxing crown. Mitchell is 22-0-1 with 16 knockouts and ESPN boxing analyst Dan Rafael named him one of the best prospects of last year. It’s a title no American has held since 2007. If he wins his next fight for the crown on an August 27 nationally televised bout against a yet-to-be-named opponent, you’ll be hearing a lot more about the man they call “Mayhem.” We caught up with Mitchell before a training session at the Dream Team boxing gym in Clinton.

What made you want to get into boxing? You don’t typically see a boxer start his career in his mid-twenties.
After a couple of knee operations I just felt like it was time to give up football. One day, I saw Tom Zbikowski in his pro debut at Madison Square Garden. I played against him when he was a safety at Notre Dame. That got the competitive juices going again and I started boxing and the rest is history.

I knew that if it came to me being dedicated, to being a student of the game, to me having that killer instinct—that was never a question. I knew I had that and that’s innate within me. I knew that if I had the proper training and I was serious about it, that I could reach the highest levels of the sport.

What has the reaction to your boxing career been like from people you meet in the Washington area?
If you met me outside the ring, you wouldn’t know that I’m a boxer. I’m totally different. I can separate when I’m here and when I’m not. When I’m Seth Mitchell, I’m Seth Mitchell. When I’m “Mayhem,” I’m “Mayhem.” Outside the ring, I’m always smiling and always joking. But it’s all business once I get inside the ring. I’m a Gemini, so maybe that’s where the split personality comes into play.

Where did the nickname “Mayhem” come from?
A former teammate at Michigan State named Jason Teague. We were giving each other nicknames one day and he came up with “Mayhem” and “Mayhem” Mitchell had a nice ring to it. Once I looked up the definition, I was like, ‘That’s it.’ ”

When you started, did you think you would ever get to where you are now?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t have got involved in this sport if I didn’t want to achieve greatness. This is not something that you play. You get punched in the face. The training is brutal, so I absolutely thought that I could become heavyweight champion of the world.

How important is your August 27 fight in getting a chance at that title?
I look at it like my next fight is always my biggest fight, but this is definitely the biggest venue I’ve fought in. It’s on HBO. It’s a big fight for me. I believe that I’m ready for it and I just can’t wait for the challenge.

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