Career & Achievements
By the age of 18, he realized his love for boxing and became a dominant amateur boxer by 1983. He represented Canada in the super heavyweight category at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, but lost to Tyrell Biggs, who went on to win the gold medal.
He chose not to turn professional after the Olympics and competed for four more years as an amateur, hoping for another chance to win the gold medal.
At the 1986 ‘World Amateur Boxing Championship,’ he lost in the preliminary round to Petar Stoimenov. This defeat disheartened him for a couple of months, but he never gave up. He eventually won several titles in the following years.
In 1988, he traveled to Seoul, South Korea for the 1988 Summer Olympics, where he won the gold medal. He achieved what he had set out to do, and his hard work paid off when he defeated Riddick Bowe.
After winning the Olympics gold, he turned professional in 1989 and moved to England, where he signed up with the American promoter, ‘Main Events.’
In the late 1990, he won the European heavyweight title by beating Frenchman Jean Maurice Chanet. In 1991, he won the British title against the undefeated world champion Gary Mason.
In April 1992, he won the Commonwealth title against Derek Williams. By then, he was already the ‘consensus top-five heavyweights’ in the world. During this period, he defeated former WBA champion Mike Weaver. He also defeated Mike Dixon and Levi Billups.
On October 31, 1992, he knocked-out Canadian Donovan Ruddock. Subsequently, he was ranked number one in the WBC world rankings.
On 14 December 1992, Lewis was declared the world heavyweight champion by WBC after Riddick Bowe refused to face him and relinquished the title.
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On September 24, 1994, he lost his title to Oliver McCall at the ‘Wembley Arena’ in London. During the second round of the game, McCall coupled his blows with a powerful right hook, planting Lewis flat on his back. Following this loss, Lewis decided that he needed a better trainer, and replaced Pepe Correa with Emanuel Steward.
In 1997, he defeated McCall in Las Vegas and was re-crowned the WBC champion. Lewis successfully defended the title during his forthcoming fights against the likes of Shannon Briggs, Henry Akinwande, and Zeljko Mavrović.
In 1999, he faced WBA and IBF title holder Evander Holyfield in New York City but the session was declared a draw. Controversies arose and a re-match was sanctioned eight months later on November 13, 1999. He was then conferred the title of ‘undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.’
In April 2000, he successfully knocked out the 6 feet 8 inches Michael Grant in Madison Square Garden. The same year, he knocked out Francois Botha and David Tua.
During one of the most controversial fights of his career, Lewis got into a brawl with his opponent Hasim Rahman. Many speculated that the fight was scripted to promote their match. The events surrounding their brawl are still open to debate.
On June 8, 2002, he defended his title against Mike Tyson. In 2003, he fought against Vitali Klitschko, the WBC world contender and champion.
In 2004, he announced his retirement from the sport and decided to pursue other interests, including music promotion and sports management.
Lewis worked as a boxing analyst for HBO on ‘Boxing After Dark’ from 2006 to 2010.
He was awarded the C.M. (Member of the Order of Canada) on November 17, 1988.
In 1999, he was conferred the most prestigious sporting award in Britain, ‘BBC Sports Personality of the Year.’
In 2008, he was inducted into ‘Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.’
In 2009, he was inducted into the ‘International Boxing Hall of Fame.’