Lennox Lewis Interview
By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
The three-time boxing world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is also a two-time lineal champion. Additionally, he remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed title before he retired from the sport with a record of 42-1-1 with 32 KO. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to discuss his career with him, his League of Champions foundation and his partnership with PBC and FOX.
Lennox Lewis was born in London, England back in 1965 from Jamaican parents. Having moved to Ontario, Canada at age 12. Like most children at that age, Lewis was sent outside to play with his friends. They often found themselves on playing soccer, cricket and basketball. His own words, “I’m a true athlete.” So, this natural athletic ability led him to excel in each sport including football. In 1982 he helped his high school’s basketball win the Ontario provincial championship.
Although Lewis enjoyed playing other team sports, he enjoyed being solely in control of his destiny more. Emphatically stating “boxing really excited me for that reason,” because “boxing depends on you. In boxing, you are your own team. If you worked hard and dedicated yourself, you’d be successful.”
Once he decided to peruse a boxing career Lewis won the World Amateur Junior title. He then earned his way on to the Canadian Olympic team. In the 1984 Olympics, at the age of 18, Lewis fought as a Superheavyweight and lost to Tyrell Biggs, the eventual gold medalist. As a true competitor, Lewis really wanted to win that Gold medal for his country, so he chose to compete in the Seoul Olympics. It was in 1988, that he won the Gold medal in the Superheavyweight division for Canada.
In High School used to sneak into the Chess club, before joining the Chess Club. Throughout his many years of traveling, just so happened his trainer at the time, was an avid chess player. So, they played chess as a time filler throughout their travels to various countries. Though he soon became to realize, “Chess is life.”
“When you make a move, you have to make sure it’s the right move. That you’re protected and that it’s a positive move.” “How chess works in boxing, the same thing; you have to foresee what a man’s going to do, foresee what you want to do. Have a plan of attack and go for it.”
He applies this same technique to the youth he works within his LOC Boxing camp. “If you have a kid out here playing chess, that kids not going to go out and rob someone. Because hopefully, he will realize that the next three moves are not good.” This is a fantastic strategy to help children to understand the value of consequences.
After he won the Gold in 1988, Lewis went back to London to peruse his professional career. Though Frank Bruno was the man in London, at the time, and there became a time where the town wasn’t big enough for them both. Lennox liked to refer to that situation as, “He is the old, I am the new.” There was a “battle of Britain, at one time and the public was split. In order to get everyone on my side, me and him had to fight. So, they could see who the best was!” In this fight for Britain, “Bruno came into the ring to some British music, I came into Bob Marley!” Once Lennox Lewis returned to London to Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis
He turned professional in 1989 and went on to gain the European title in 1990 and the British Commonwealth Heavyweight title in 1992. He was officially crowned the WBC Heavyweight Champion in January of 1993. In November 1999 Lewis and Evander Holyfield met once again in the ring after their earlier fight ended in a controversial draw. This time Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield to become the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, unifying the WBC, WBA, IBO and IBF titles.
When I asked him about Stewart, Lennox’s next word was, “Emanuel Stewart is a trainer of champions!” The passion and tone in voice told me more than his words did. Having admired the style of the Detroit fighters he’s seen, he became interested in their trainer Emanuel Stewart, after seeing him at the Pan Am games in Indianapolis, where he first met former Heavyweight championship, Muhammed Ali. Lennox and Stewart met in Toronto during the North American game where Stewart began to question him on his style, prior to becoming his trainer. Though it would be a couple years before the two would partner up, their bond was nearly unbreakable before Stewart’s untimely passing.
In the several years, the Lennox Lewis was the undisputed Heavyweight Champion he had multiple signature moments, with and without Stewart in his corner, in his illustrious career; I already mentioned the fight with Bruno for their country, need I remind you of his 24 consecutive rounds with Evander Holyfield? If you are truly a boxing fan, you’d know about his loss to hard-hitting Hasim Rahman, only to come back to knock Rahman out in the 5 rounds in their rematch.
Many casual boxing fans will recall the highest grossing pay-per-view professional boxing fight, at the time, was his ceremonious defeat of Mike Tyson in 2002. When asked who the toughest fighter he’s faced, Lewis was reluctant to identify a fighter, “they were all pretty tough, whether it’s mental or physical.”
So, I then asked him, if he thought the referee should have stopped the fight between, he and Vitali Klitschko. Until he gave me an explanation, I was surprised to hear him say, “no, they shouldn’t have.” He went on to explain that, “Although, he was cut in 17 places around his eye… I don’t think I would love to go down in history as someone who blinded somebody.” I then began to understand the compassion the former Heavyweight Championship has in his heart.
In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Lewis with a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). The CBE is an esteemed honor for a British citizen, just one rank below knighthood. In
2008, Lewis was World Boxing Hall of Fame, the World Boxing Council’s Hall of Fame inductee and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In June 2009, Lewis was also inducted in his first year of eligibility into the revered International Boxing Hall of Fame. Lewis has also been honored by the WBC with his picture image permanently embedded in the WBC Heavyweight championship belt, in 2016.
Along with being a major contributor to the Muhammad Ali Center, Lewis is also a current ambassador for the global-based sports charity, Laureus. He lends his talent and expertise to the Canadian youth boxing center, sponsors a youth chess team, in addition to becoming an annual supporter of countless charities and social causes around the globe. Lewis has participated in each of these charities while in the process of starting his own charity; The Lennox Lewis League of Champions (LOC) Foundation, whose mission is to inspire the next generation of champions for success in the RING of life.
When asked why he chooses “It’s important to me because it’s needed, it gives kids something to do, they need a focus.” They help with teaching the children conflict resolution. “We teach the think a lot more, that’s where the chess comes in; we talk a lot more so that these kids realize other kids are going through worse things than they are going through. The boxing program really helps them excel quickly.” All within a two-week camp. Another benefit of the boxing program is these kids learn to deal with defeat. He also mentions that he gives back because Arnie Beam, took him out and exposed him to experiences he may not have otherwise have if Arnie didn’t pay him any attention.
Although commentating wasn’t initially in the plans for Lennox, when asked he stated, “I felt great! I believe this is the new network, the network that will give boxing to the people. They are bringing back the old boxers and new boxers. So, everyone is a part of PBC.” His, knowledge in the boxing world provides further credibility to this partnership.
As FOX Sports and Premier Boxing Champions agreed to a 4-year partnership intent on bringing the Sweet Science back to broadcast television. They brought on the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed title and three-time boxing world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, to be a ringside analyst for the PBC fights on the FOX broadcast network and PBC on FOX pay-per-view fights. He will be a color analyst calling the fights for FOX PBC FIGHT NIGHT: SHAWN PORTER VS. YORDENIS UGAS on Saturday, March 9 live on FOX along with Chris Myers and legendary Southern California boxing trainer Joe Goossen, in addition to calling the first-ever FOX Sports PBC PPV featuring Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia, live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on March 16 with Kenny Albert and Goossen.
This will be the four and fifth FOX PBC Fight Night Shows that Lennox works as part of this FOX – PBC deal. This year there are 10 PBC Fight Nights on FOX television, which is sure to gain more viewers to the sport than ever before. There will be additional programming to support these upcoming PBC Fight Nights on FS1.
About the upcoming fights:
On Saturday, March 9 – WBC Welterweight World Champion Shawn Porter will make his first title defense in primetime as he battles Yordenis Ugas in the headliner of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX live from Dignity Health Sports Park, formerly StubHub Center, in Carson, California
Televised coverage begins on FOX at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features heavy-handed slugger Efe Ajagba (8-0, 7 KOs) versus experienced veteran Amir Mansour (23-3-1, 16 KOs) in an eight-round heavyweight bout, plus a duel between two hard-hitting brawlers as Abel Ramos (23-3-2, 12 KOs) and Francisco Santana (25-6-1, 12 KOs) meet in a 10-round welterweight match in the televised opener. Prelims start on FS1 at 6:30pm ET.
Then on Saturday, March 16, in one of the most highly anticipated and intriguing matches in boxing, IBF Welterweight Champion Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) will defend his title against four-division world champion and current WBC Lightweight Champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
I really enjoyed the time Lennox Lewis shared with me. He reassured his image as a humble warrior with a willingness to improve the world around him. I enjoyed discussing his journey to his heavyweight championship and how now spends time encouraging the youth through the sport of boxing as well as his new partnership with PBC and FOX. Please share with me your thoughts on Former Champion or the PBC on FOX’s investment in boxing, by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or @whatsgoodinsports on Twitter.