Lennox Lewis: ‘I knew I’d meet Mike Tyson in the ring.’ Boxing

“I am“It wasn’t funny,” says Lenax Lewis, “because I would go out with my son Landon and people would shout my name in their fists. He was so confused and terrified. He would say: ‘Why are these people holding this fist to fight you?’ ”

Landon Lewis is now 16 years old and understands why she and her sisters are still hugging strangers and shouting at their fathers with respect. The son of the world’s most controversial heavyweight champion is keen on boxing and Lewis is proud to describe his kids ’reaction in a new documentary about him. “They like it very much. They give it to me with Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali and it’s narrated by Dr. Draw which means a lot.”

When Lewis was at his best in the 1990s, the great rap artist Dr. Drew was at his best. Lewis’ last two fights, and victories against Micro Tyson in June 2002 and a year later, Vitali Klitsko – show how he was associated with different eras of heavyweight boxing. Lewis returned to Britain, the country of his birth, to begin his professional career after stopping his bitter American opponent, Riddick Boke, in the super-heavyweight final of the 1966 Olympic Games to win gold for Canada.

Lewis has always been an intelligent and single man and so he was also fit when Dun King, Bob Arum and every major preacher in the world chased him, signing a small but vocal London of Frank Maloney – this is a big shot of anti-American boxing. We can finally acknowledge the level of that contrast when the middle-aged father of three, Frank, opted for gender reassignment and became Kelly Maluni in 2015.

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In the documentary, Maloney shows Lewis’ mother and wife, both of whom are called Violet, along with his close-knit team. Inevitably, attention has been drawn to Lewis’ conversation with Tyson. The concluding scenes, when Tyson pays clear and affectionate homage to the man who defeated him, are moving. These are in contrast to the archive footage that sounds like an exuberant echo through the film as an uninterrupted Tyson snare: “Lenax Lewis, I’m coming for you … I’ve become the most ruthless and wicked and ruthless champion ever. Lenax a winner? No, I’m Alexander.” “She’s not Alexander. I’m the best of all time … My style is disabled, my defenses are impenetrable and I’m just fierce. I want your heart I want to eat her kids.”

Lewis smiled. “When he said he was coming for me, I said: ‘He is coming Me? She’s crazy. Doesn’t he understand that I’m coming for him? ‘When he said he was going to eat my kids, my mother said:‘ What is he talking about? You have no children. ‘I’m not talking about that obscene prison house. ”

Did Lewis ever feel nervous about Tyson? “Yeah and no. Yeah, because TV makes him look like King Kong. But, no, because Manny. [Lewis’s legendary trainer Emanuel Steward] Tyson always told me my easiest fight. I would say: ‘Come on, now! She’s going to be a little tough. But Manny said: ‘No. This is your easiest fight. “

Lewis was much older than Tyson. He can rely on his technical prowess and unwavering temperament to lead Tyson to the stoppage of the eighth round, which has spread the myth of Iron Mike once and for all. Was it as easy as Manny promised? Lewis smiled. “No”

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There was a misconception that Lewis played chess rather than trash-tapping, Tyson, Bow and Evender were not as tough as his American partners at Holyfield. His complex British and Canadian past was also confusing because it implied that he did not tolerate the adversity of enduring U.S. heavyweights. But Lewis lost his mother for five years at a crucial stage in his youth, and he only knew his father temporarily.

The documentary relates to Lewis’s early years in East London, when his mother had to move to Canada to make a living. Until his mother finally arranged for him to be brought to Canada, he moved on to a shaky existence – where he soon discovered boxing. He was raised by his first trainer, Ernie Bohem, about whom Lewis still speaks warmly.

Lenakos made a punch against Lewis Mike Tyson in the fight for the 2002 World Heavyweight Championship in Mainfis. Photo: Jeff Haynes / EPA

“Arni was the first person to see my talent and he also saw a small kid that he could help outside of the ring. She cared for the children. He was one of those guys that would have 15 kids in his car and we would like to travel for a three hour tournament. “

Bohm also took Lewis to Catskill to save Tyson, who was 15 years old at the time. Did Boehm know Tyson’s famous coach Cass D’Amato? “No. They met for the first time then and met brilliantly. They had the same kind of love for boxing and took care of us like kids. It was an important tour because I wanted to learn my craft and be a pugilist expert. “

Did he have a friendship with Tyson as a teenager? “I liked him. We got to know each other pretty well. We talked, we went down to town, we danced together. He was a monster because you could easily see him throwing people during training at Catskill. I thought he was great. When the time came I I knew we would meet in the ring. I wanted to know if what Kas said was true. “

D’Amato predicted that Tyson and Lewis would both become world champions and that they would fight each other. Lewis admits, “I felt it too.

Looks like last Saturday night, Tyson Roy re-entered the ring for a meaningless show against Jones Jr., while Lewis was on the smart side of the rope with an offer of television analysis. When we first spoke last week, Lewis was mildly surprised that the two-decade-old champions were pulling on their gloves in their fifties. Lewis joked when I praised him for resisting all siren calls to get back in the ring: “I’m taking the winner.”

The night line includes Snoop Doggie Dogg, Dr. Drew’s old side kick, he helped comment: “This shit is fighting in BBQ like my two uncles.” When we spoke again on Sunday night Lewis laughed long and harshly: “I think my friend Snoop summed it up the best he could. But what stuck to me was that my son was really happy because he was back in my boxing era. He had a chance to see a guy, so I was happy for him.

Lewis’s reputation has grown over time. Even when he was the world champion, many British fans liked Frank Bruno. Canadians felt that Lewis came out on top of them when no one understood the charisma of the United States. Yet alongside Rocky Marciano and Jean Tunny, Lewis is just one of three world heavyweight champions, he beat every man in his competition. And only Tunny, Marciano and Lewis retire for good as world heavyweight champions. He belongs to the strongest organization.

Muhammad Ali and Lenax Lewis met in London in January 2001.
Muhammad Ali and Lenax Lewis met in London in January 2001. Photo: Rebecca Naden / PA

Lewis won 41 of his 44 fights. His solo draw against Holyfield in March 1999 was widely accepted as Travis, and he won the match again in Las Vegas the following year. In the only defeats against Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman in 2001, Lewis was guilty of complacency and found the perfect place. But when the two of them fought again, he fell.

The defeat for Lewis was both a result of grief but compensation. After the defeat against McCall, he hired Steward as his head coach and improved significantly. His defeat against South Africa’s Rahman softened Lewis in support of acclaimed boxing teammate Nelson Mandela. “As soon as I met him, he said: ‘Oh, don’t worry. He caught you with a lucky punch. All you have to do is get your job done again. You will kill him next time. ‘

“I talked to him all day in Soweto. I have heard the story of when the oppressors came to his house and tried to apply poison in the milk. He taught me a huge amount of history. I remember they said: ‘President Mandela, we have to get out, the press is waiting for you.’ So I got up and started the journey for him. But he pushed me out of the house from the front. Everyone is looking at me and saying: ‘This is not Mandela!’ I thought that was great – seeing his humorous side. “

Muhammad Ali, another great hero of Lewis, also spent time with him. “He would ask me questions, and talk to me,” Lewis said of Ali. “It was special to be with me, to talk about eating with him. At one point he went: ‘I was the greatest of all time. But now you are the biggest. ‘I said:’ No, you are always the greatest. ‘ Ali barely smiled. ”

Was Lewis surprised five years ago when he heard that Frank Maloney was going to play Kelly? “I was a little shocked. At first I didn’t realize when I considered her age. I was like: ‘This is a very big step.’ But I support Kelly because I believe it’s your life. “

Lewis always kept his core personal and so by sticking to his principles and having good people around him, he avoided accidents and mental health problems that affected many of his contemporaries, including Bruno, Tyson and McCall. He is cheerful and instead of claiming his era is now better than the time influenced by Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, Lewis insists: “I am a fan of heavyweight boxing. Tyson in the last two fights [Fury] Showed a lot about him [against Deontay Wilder]. He adjusted to what happened in the first fight [when Fury had to settle for a draw after getting up from a heavy knockdown] And said: ‘I’ll fight separately and knock him out.’ He did exactly what the good character shows. “

Does Lewis think he will win the planned fight between Fury and Joshua next year? “They both deal with their confidence as they choose to embark on their play activities.”

The youngest of Lewis’ three daughters was born with 18 tricycles, a rare and deadly condition that affects growth and development. It wasn’t easy but Lewis remains positive. “She’s doing well,” he said of his daughter. He is also a philosopher about attracting boys to boxing. “He has been to all my Lennox Lewis leagues in Canada and Jamaica’s champion camp. So he’s interested in boxing – but also music, basketball and football. If he becomes anything, he will be a boxer. I feel good, because he already has it in his DNA.

Ladon Lewis, like his father, would make up his own mind. Does Lewis still miss the intensity of boxing at 55? “No, but I remember making a lot of comments, and when I hear the roar of the crowd, it’s like: ‘Yeah, it was for me. I will remember it. ‘ But I don’t need to. ”

Watch Linux: The Untold Story now on DVD and digital at www.lennox.film

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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