The four Circle of Champions include former world heavyweight boxing champion James “Buster” Douglas, a member of the Columbus Linden McKinley High School 1977 state basketball championship team; Dayton native and former All-American running back Keith Byars, and former six-time Gold Glove third baseman Buddy Bell of Cincinnati. Former Big Ten Conference football official Henry Armstead, a Canton native and member of the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame, will also be recognized. The Circle of Champions program recognizes individuals who had prominent roles in the history of Ohio athletics. The state tournament will be held at the University of Dayton Arena Friday through Sunday, March 17-19.
Douglas attended Columbus Linden McKinley High School, where he played football and basketball. He was a junior on the Class AAA state championship basketball team in 1977 that completed an undefeated season by defeating defending state champion and top-ranked Barberton, which ended that school’s 51-game winning streak. After high school, he played basketball at three different colleges before moving back to Columbus to focus on boxing. Buster was a professional boxer between 1981 and 1999 and finished with a career record of 38-6-1. He is best known for becoming the undisputed world heavyweight champion in 1990 when he knocked out previously undefeated Mike Tyson in the 10th round in Tokyo in what most regard as the biggest upset in boxing history.
A three-sport standout, Byars helped the former Dayton Roth High School win back-to-back OHSAA state basketball and track & field championships in 1981 and 1982, but he made his mark after high school in football. While a running back at Ohio State, he led the nation in rushing and scoring as a junior in 1984, when he was the Big Ten MVP, All-American and runner-up to Doug Flutie for the Heisman Trophy. A broken foot limited his senior year before he was the No. 10 pick of Philadelphia in the first round of the 1986 NFL Draft. Keith spent 13 years in the NFL with four teams, making the Pro Bowl in 1993 with Miami and helping New England make the 1996 Super Bowl. He is in the Ohio State Athletic and College Football halls of fame.
Bell was a standout in both basketball and baseball at Archbishop Moeller High School. He was drafted and signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1969 and spent 18 years in the Major Leagues, including seven with Cleveland and parts of four seasons with Cincinnati. He was a five-time All-Star third baseman and won six consecutive Gold Glove awards. Buddy also managed in Detroit, Colorado and Kansas City, and is currently vice president and senior advisor to the general manager of the Reds. Buddy is the son of Reds Hall of Famer, the late Gus Bell, and his son David is currently the Reds’ manager.
Armstead was an OHSAA contest official in four sports for more than 50 years, and he spent 20 years as a Big Ten Conference football official. During his collegiate career, he worked six Ohio State vs. Michigan games and was chosen for 15 bowl games, including the 2001 National Championship game. Since retiring from officiating, Henry has served as a football clock operator at not only the OHSAA state championships in Canton but also two Big Ten Championship Games and the 2019 collegiate National Championship game. He is a member of the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame and a graduate of Canton McKinley High School.
During last week’s OHSAA Girls State Basketball Tournament, two additional individuals were honored in the Circle of Champions recognition program, Dan Hughes and Katie Nageotte Moon. A native of Lowell, Ohio, not far from Marietta, Hughes spent the majority of his career as a women’s basketball coach, leading four WNBA teams over 19 seasons between 1999 and 2021 and serving as an assistant with the 2021 U.S. National Team that won a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He led the 2018 Seattle Storm to a 24-8 record and the WBNA championship and also contributed to the team’s 2020 WNBA championship from afar when he opted not to coach during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dan won 598 games in the WNBA, was twice voted league coach-of-the-year and his teams made the playoffs 12 times. He assisted collegiately with the men’s and women’s teams at Toledo, Mt. Union, Baldwin-Wallace and Miami.
An Olmsted Falls native, Nageotte Moon has been competing nationally and internationally in the pole vault since 2013, and her career highlights thus far have included a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 2021 and first place in the World Outdoor Championships this past July in Eugene, Oregon. She followed that up by winning the U.S. Indoor Championships last month in Albuquerque. In high school, Katie won the OHSAA state pole vault championship as a senior in 2009 after finishing as runner-up the year before. Katie attended the University of Dayton for two years, winning Atlantic 10 indoor and outdoor pole vault titles in 2010. After transferring to Ashland University, she completed a sweep her senior year in 2013, winning indoor and outdoor pole vault titles in her conference meets and at the NCAA Division II championships. Now living and continuing to train in Georgia, Katie was married this past New Year’s Eve in Cleveland to her husband Hugo Moon.