Lennox Lewis is one of the world’s most famous boxers of all times, born on the 2nd of September 1965 in London, England, to Jamaican-born parents. At the age of 18, Lewis represented Canada as a super heavyweight at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He advanced to the quarter-finals, where he lost a decision to American Tyrell Biggs, the eventual gold medallist.
Lewis turned professional in 1989, winning his first 21 fights before he knocked out Donovan Ruddock in 1992 to take over the number one position in the World Boxing Council (WBC) rankings.
He was declared WBC heavyweight champion in December 1992 after Riddick Bowe was stripped of the title. Lewis, after defeating every top contender thrown his way, was given his shot at Evander Holyfield in a championship unification fight on March 13, 1999. Lewis dominated the fight but due to controversial judging, the bout was declared a draw.
Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in a rematch on Nov 13, 1999 to become undisputed world champion. Due to promoter Don King’s underhanded tactics, the WBA belt was stripped from Lewis in court.In April 2000, he was stripped of the World Boxing Association portion of his title after a legal dispute.
On April 21, 2001, Lewis went to Johannesburg in South Africa at the invitation of Nelson Mandela. Lewis would defend his titles against supposed low-risk opponent Hasim Rahman. Due to Lewis’ failure to prepare for the fight by dropping excessive weight rapidly, arriving in Johannesburg 2 weeks before the fight which, according to expert opinion, was too late to acclimatize to the thin air since Johannesburg was 5,000 feet above sea level, Lewis suffered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Lewis was knocked out by underdog Hasin Rahman, but regained the title in a rematch that November.
Lewis successfully defended his title against American boxer Mike Tyson, in a fight promoted as a historic match up. Despite the hype, Lewis knocked Tyson out with relative ease. Lewis who now resides in Jamaica has won many boxing titles throughout his career, he was also found guilty of biting one of his fellow boxers ear during a match.
Lewis believes heavyweight boxing is a shadow of what it once was. “If somebody gave me ten years back I would definitely go back in there and get rid of the guys who are there right now and show them what I mean by imposing your will on another heavyweight, trying to knock them out.”
He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009, made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1988, and invested as a Member of the British Empire in 1999, which was upgraded to Commander in 2002. Lewis retired from boxing in 2004 because of other interest.
In 2007, he was cast as one of 14 contestants to compete in the seventh season of NBC’s The Apprentice: Celebrity Edition, which rewarded the winner with $250,000 for the charity for his or her choice. He came in fourth place.