By Gerald V. Paul
Is boxing a dying sport or is the sport too stubborn to die in Toronto?
Former undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis wants to revive the popularity of the sport here through his partnership with promoter Global Legacy Boxing.
Global Legacy President and CEO Leslie (Les) Woods Jr. was inspired to rejuvenate the sweet science after speaking with Jamaican-born Olympic Medalist Chris Johnson and Lewis to bring his grandfather’s dreams to fruition and continue his family’s legacy.
The decision was unanimous: “It’s time.”
Woods said “Global Legacy Boxing is bringing professional boxing back to this wonderful country at a most prestigious level. We have decided to grow organically, with a five-year plan.”
Now retired, Lewis – who captured a gold medal for Team Canada at the 1988 Seoul Olympics – today is involved in charity work. Canada’s flag bearer at those Games’ closing ceremony said he is happy to be part of the revival of boxing in Toronto, which needs to be elevated.
Lewis, a Canada citizen born in London, England, of Jamaican parentage, was the recipient of the Luminary Award from the University of the West Indies, Fourth Annual Toronto Benefit Gala in 2013. In 1988, Canada awarded him a CM – Member of the Order of Canada for a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation. He is also a recipient of the CBE – Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, just one rank below knighthood and was the first world heavyweight titleholder from Britain in the 20th Century.
“While I began boxing at the Kitchener-Waterloo Regional Boxing Association in Kitchener, Ontario, I set out on a mission. What started as a teenager’s dream to become heavyweight champion quickly became my life’s passion and career thus far,” Lewis said in 2004.
“Now in retiring, I hope to transmit the message, particularly to young people, that the fundamental character traits of integrity, discipline and respect translate into a reward worth more than any purse.”
Lewis retired with an impressive record of 41 wins, two losses, one draw and 32 wins by knockout. He is one of three boxers in history to have won the heavyweight championship three times.
He is making a contribution with the Lennox Lewis League of Champions Foundation dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged children and their families by inspiring them to become educated, socially responsible and financially self-sufficient.
His vision is to affect positive change by instilling the belief that success is achieved through sacrifice, discipline, motivation to hard work and belief in oneself.
The foundation raises funds for charities that impact the lives of disadvantaged children in Jamaica, the U.K., Canada and the U.S. Among its goals are:
- Entitle every child to a safe haven for fun and social interaction through sports and recreational activities.
- Establish or assist an operating recreational facility that uses sport to inspire and achieve greatness.
- Provide remedial and advance academic support as a fundamental way to support intellectual and physical growth.