“I am the master of the sweet science. There is not one heavyweight who can match my skill.” Lennox Lewis
British boxing legend Lennox Lewis, nicknamed “The Lion,” has differentiated himself by being one of only three boxers in history to have won the heavyweight championship three times, along with his idol, Muhammad Ali, and former opponent Evander Holyfield. In the professional circuits for 15 years (1989-2004), he defeated a number of top contenders such as Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Ray Mercer, Oliver McCall, Hashim Rahman, Francois Botha and ?eljko Mavrović and only suffered two defeats in 44 fights. As an amateur, Lewis represented Canada as a super-heavyweight in the 1988 Summer Olympic in Seoul, South Korea, where he became the gold medalist. He also won the Junior World title in 1983, the Super Heavyweight Commonwealth Games in 1986 and the North American Super Heavyweight Championship in 1987. For his work in boxing, Lewis, who frequently refers to himself as “the pugilist specialist,” was honored with a M.B.E. (Member of The Order of The British Empire) in 1999. Three years later, he was given the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).
“I always ask myself why old heavyweights come back, but I plan to stay out of the ring. I've got a new life now, a new future. There's a lot more to Lennox Lewis than just being a boxer. I am very sure about my decision.” Lennox Lewis
Since retiring Lewis spends much of his time with his wife, Violet Chang, and their lovely two children, London and Ling. He also appeared in front of the camera as an actor in the film “Johnny Was” (2006), was a boxing commentator on HBO and a contestant in the reality TV “Celebrity Apprentice” (2008). In 2007, Lewis stated on a website that he was considering starting an international boxing academy and a record label.
Childhood and Family:
Lennox Claudius Lewis was born on September 2, 1965, in London, England, to Jamaican born parents. His father left the family when he was only a child and Lennox was brought to Canada by his mother who found employment in a Styrofoam plant. Because of her low wages, young Lennox was sent back to London and lived separately from his mother until age 12. Back in Canada, he attended Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute for high school and showed a promising talent for sports. He was excellent at Canadian football, basketball, track, soccer and volleyball, but boxing was his favorite.
Lennox married Violet Chang on July 15, 2005. She was once a runner-up in a Miss Jamaica beauty pageant. Lennox and Violet have a son named London (born in June 2004), and a daughter named Ling (born on May 29, 2006. The family currently resides in Miami Beach, Florida.
A natural born athlete, Lennox Lewis started his amateur boxing career while living in Canada and earned his first recognition at age 18 when he was awarded the 1983 Junior World Super Heavyweight title. The following year, he represented Canada in the 1984 Summer Olympic in Los Angeles where he became a silver medalist super-heavyweight champion after Tyrell Biggs (United States) defeated him through the judges' decision. After the Olympics, Lewis went on to compete in amateur circuits for the next four years, during which time he picked up several championships, including the silver medal at the 1985 World Cup Competition, the gold medal at the Super Heavyweight Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986 and the 1987 North American Super Heavyweight title. One unforgettable moment arrived in 1988 when for the second time he had the opportunity to compete in the Summer Olympics, which were being held in Seoul, South Korea. In the games, the super heavyweight brought home the longed-for gold medal after he beat the upcoming world champion Riddick Bowe (United States) in two rounds.
Lewis went professional after the Olympics and returned to England. In a match in June 1989, he defeated Al Malcolm in a second-round knock out and continued to score a series of victories in his subsequent matches. In late 1990, Lewis netted the European heavyweight title and the following year, in March, he added the British heavyweight title to his resume. His flourishing career was further confirmed when he became the winner of the 1992 Commonwealth Championship. By this time, Lewis was considered to be the fifth heavyweight champion in the world.
In October 1992, Lewis faced a defining fight against Canadian boxer Donovan “Razor” Ruddock that was eventually won by Lewis in a second-round KO. As the winner, Lewis was scheduled to face Riddick Bowe, who had previously defeated Evander Holyfield, but the world champ refused to fight Lewis. As a result, the WBC commission proclaimed Lewis the heavyweight champion in 1993. After maintaining the title for several bouts, Lewis was forced to give away his belt when he lost to Oliver McCall in a second-round TKO in 1994.
With the help of new trainer Emanuel Steward, Lewis tried to rebuild his reputation and scored victories against such contenders as Lionel Butler, Justin Fortune, Tommy Morrison and Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer. He then challenged the WBC titleholder Mike Tyson to a fight, but Tyson declined to defend his title against Lewis even after the court ordered him to do so. He chose instead to relinquish the title. In 1997, Lewis finally retook the vacant WBC title after beating his old foe, Oliver McCall, in the fifth round.
1998 saw Lewis defend his WBC World title in fights against Shannon Briggs (KO), ex-WBO world champion Henry Akinwande and Andrew Golot (KO). He also won a 12-round solid decision against the European champion ?eljko Mavrović. The next year, in March, Lewis challenged the WBA/IBF heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in a bout in New York City that ended in a draw, although Lewis dominated the fight. Eight months later, Lewis defeated Holyfield in a rematch held in Las Vegas and became the first unchallenged heavyweight world camp since Riddick Bowe in 1992. Later, Lewis surrendered the IBF and WBA titles when he declined to fight John Ruiz, the top WBA contender.
In 2000, Lewis defended his title by beating Michael Grant and Francois Botha in a second-round KO and David Tua with a majority judge's decision in 12 rounds. However, he had to pass his belt to Hashim Rahman in April 2001 in a bout held in South Africa. Undaunted by the lost fight, Lewis came back seven months later and successfully defeated Rahman. With the win, he regained the WBC, IBF and IBO titles as well as the third world championship. In 2002, Lewis fought Mike Tyson and floored him easily in 8 rounds.
Before his retirement in 2004, Lewis fought the WBC's No. 1 contender and ex-WBO champ Vitali Klitschko in June 2003 and won the fight. At the end of his pro career, Lewis had 44 total fights with 41 wins. He stopped the rumor about his return by saying, “I became a boxer because I wanted to be just like Muhammad Ali. But what I learned from him was not to fight on too long. I saw him go on too long and suffer as a result. And the reason I retired when I did, and why I won't fight again, is because I don't want the same to happen to me.”
After hanging up his gloves, Lewis, who had a cameo appearance as the boxing opponent in the film “Ocean's Eleven” (2001), played Ras, the DJ of a pirate radio station, in the movie “Johnny Was” (2006), opposite Vinnie Jones and Eriq La Salle. After participating in the world series of poker in 2007, Lewis appeared as a contestant in several episodes of the NBC reality hit series “Celebrity Apprentice” (2008). He also emerged as a boxing commentator on HBO.
Heavyweight World Championship: 3 times
Commonwealth Championship: 1992
British Heavyweight Championship: 1991
European Heavyweight Championship: 1990
Olympics Games (Seoul, South Korea): Gold, 1988
North American Super Heavyweight Championship: 1987
Super Heavyweight Commonwealth Games: Gold, 1986
Junior World Super Heavyweight: 1983