(born Sept. 2, 1965, London, Eng.) British boxer. His professional career began in 1989 in England. He won the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight h1 in 1992, lost it in 1994, and recaptured it in 1997. In 1999 he faced American Evander Holyfield, who held the heavyweight h1s of the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF). In a controversial decision, the fight was called a draw. In the rematch that same year Lewis emerged as the undisputed champion, thereby unifying the heavyweight h1. (The IBF and WBA portions of the h1 were later taken from Lewis because of disputes concerning mandatory fights, but he retained the WBC h1 and was still considered the undisputed champion by many in boxing.) In his 2002 bout with American Mike Tyson, Lewis knocked Tyson out in the eighth round.
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The next year, Lewis represented Canada as a Super Heavyweight in the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles. He advanced to the quarter-finals, where he lost a controversial decision to American Tyrell Biggs and settled for a fifth-place finish.
Lewis chose not to turn professional after the Olympics, and instead fought four more years as an amateur, hoping for a second chance to win a gold medal. After winning several more amateur titles during those years, he travelled to Seoul, South Korea for the 1988 Summer Olympics and achieved his goal. In the gold medal match, Lewis defeated future world champion Riddick Bowe by a second round technical knockout.
Having achieved that goal, Lewis declared himself a professional boxer and moved back to England. He claims he'd always considered himself British, but failed to win the hearts and minds of British fans who feel his "coming home" was more about the convenience of his career than homesickness. The early part of his pro career was filled with knock outs of journeymen, and he quickly rose in the world rankings.
On October 31 1992, Lewis knocked out Canada's hard-punching Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in two rounds for the No. 1 contender's position in the WBC world rankings. But ultimately, the victory won Lewis even more than that. After Bowe, who had become world heavyweight champion by upsetting Evander Holyfield, refused to fight Lewis as he had vowed before the Holyfield bout, Bowe's WBC title was declared vacant. On January 14 1993, the WBC declared Lewis its champion, making him the first world heavyweight titleholder from Britain in the 20th century.
Lewis successfully defended the belt three times, defeating Tony Tucker, who was decked for the first time in his career, Phil Jackson and Frank Bruno before he suffered a technical knock-out loss at the hands of Oliver McCall on September 24 1994. In the second round, McCall connected with a powerful right hand to the chin, putting Lewis down on his back. Lewis was up at the count of six, signalling that he wanted to continue, but the referee felt he was dazed and ended the fight. Lewis and others argued that the stoppage was premature and that a champion should be given the benefit of the doubt.
He received a chance to fight for the mandatory challenger position within the WBC and won it by knocking out contender Lionel Butler in the U.S. However, the WBC chose to bypass him and give Mike Tyson the first shot at the title that had recently been won by Frank Bruno. Bruno had previously lost to both Lewis and Tyson.
While he had the No. 1 contender's slot in the WBC rankings, he defeated Olympic gold medallist Ray Mercer and contender Tommy Morrison on the road, but agreed to stand aside in exchange for a multi-million dollar payoff by promoter Don King, who wanted his fighter, Mike Tyson, to unify the titles by taking Bruce Seldon's WBA version. After Tyson's win, however, he [Tyson] refused to defend against Lewis, and the WBC title was declared vacant. This set up a rematch between Lewis and McCall, who squared off on February 7 1997 in Las Vegas. In one of the strangest fights ever, McCall refused to box in the fourth and fifth rounds and actually began to cry in the ring, forcing the referee to stop the fight and award Lewis the victory.
On March 28 1998, Lewis retained the WBC world title when he knocked out lineal champion Shannon Briggs in five rounds (Briggs had recently outpointed George Foreman in a controversial fight, to win the lineal title). Lewis also successfully defended against former WBO world champion Henry Akinwande, who was disqualified after five rounds for excessive clinching. Lewis then met Andrew Golota, whom he knocked out in the first round, and beat formerly-undefeated European champion Željko Mavrović in a 12-round unanimous decision. Lewis stated in 2006 that his fight with Mavrovic was the toughest of his career.
On March 13 1999, Lewis faced WBA and IBF title holder Evander Holyfield in New York City in what was supposed to be a heavyweight unification bout. Although most observers believed Lewis had won the fight, the bout was declared a draw, to much controversy. Eight months later in Las Vegas (November 13, 1999), the two men fought again and Lewis won a close, but unanimous decision.
Lewis later dropped the WBA and IBF titles in disputes (Lewis refused to fight the WBA's number 1 challenger, John Ruiz). He successfully defended his title three times: knocking out Michael Grant in two rounds, knocking out Francois Botha in two, and winning a 12-round decision against David Tua. However, on April 21 2001, Lewis was knocked out by 15-to-1 underdog Hasim Rahman in a bout in South Africa. The loss, coupled with Lewis' earlier TKO loss to McCall, led many ringside observers to question Lewis' heart and chin. Prior to the bout, Lewis had a role in the film Ocean's Eleven in which he "boxed" against Wladimir Klitschko, and many feel that the distraction and disrupted training schedule contributed significantly to his loss.
While promoting the rematch with Rahman on ESPN's Up Close, the fighters got into a brawl similar to the one between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in front of Howard Cosell on Wide World of Sports. Many felt the brawl was staged to promote the fight, so the reality of the episode is still a matter of debate. Lewis regained the title on November 17 by knocking out Hasim Rahman in the fourth round of their rematch.
On June 8 2002, Lewis defended his title against Mike Tyson. A fight many had hoped would be a classic turned out to be one-sided as Lennox used his jab and superior reach to score a dominant knockout victory over "Iron Mike." By the eighth round, Tyson was tired and sluggish, his face swollen and his eyes cut. As he came out for the round, his corner begged him to give them one more round of solid effort seemingly in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to get him to KO Lewis. However, it was Tyson who was knocked out by a perfectly timed right hand that sent him to the canvas for the full count.
This fight was the highest-grossing event in pay-per-view history, generating $106.9 million from 1.95 million buys in the USA, until it was surpassed by De La Hoya-Mayweather in 2007.
Ticket sales were slow because they were priced as high as $2,400, but a crowd of 15,327 turned up to see the biggest sporting event ever in the city of Memphis, Tennessee. Tyson also had to pay Lewis $335,000 out of his purse for biting him at the news conference to announce the fight, which was originally scheduled for April 6 2002 in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, however, rejected the fight and several other states refused Tyson a license before Memphis finally bid $12 million to land it.
Interviewed about the fight by HBO, the doctor explained his decision: "When he raised his head up, his upper eyelid covered his field of vision," doctor Paul Wallace said. "At that point I had no other option but to stop the fight. If he had to move his head to see me, there was no way he could defend his way against a punch."
In 2002, Lewis was reportedly offered £5m by WWE chairman Vince McMahon to take up wrestling with WWE. His camp held discussions over a possible match with former WWE superstar Brock Lesnar in February 2003, at the No Mercy pay-per-view event.
In 2008, Lewis was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
Lewis is an avid chess player, seeing chess as a good preparation method for a boxing match.