When the new heavyweight champion, Riddick Bowe, whom Lewis had beaten in the Olympic gold medal bout, refused to defend his title against Lewis, the World Boxing Council stripped Bowe of the title and awarded it to Lewis.
Lennox Lewis, boxer (b at London, Eng 2 Sept 1965). Lewis had an outstanding amateur career and was a 6-time Canadian Amateur Champion. He won the gold medal in the super-heavyweight division at both the 1986 Commonwealth Games and the 1987 North American Championships. His amateur career was capped by winning the gold at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Canada's first boxing gold since 1932. Lewis turned professional following his Olympic triumph and moved back to England, where he became the Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion and a leading contender for the world heavyweight championship.
When the new heavyweight champion, Riddick Bowe, whom Lewis had beaten in the Olympic gold medal bout, refused to defend his title against Lewis, the World Boxing Council stripped Bowe of the title and awarded it to Lewis. Lewis successfully defended the title 3 times before losing in a stunning upset at the hands of Oliver McCall in September 1994. In his bid to regain his former title, Lewis won a unanimous decision against Ray Mercer in May 1996. When Mike Tyson refused $45 million to defend his WBC title against Lewis and was forced by the courts to vacate his crown, Lewis had the opportunity to recapture the title by beating his former nemesis, Oliver McCall. In February 1997 he defeated McCall to regain the WBC title, and defended it later that year - first against Henry Akinwande, who was disqualified for refusing to resist holding onto Lewis, and then against Andrew Golata, who was defeated after one round. On 28 March 1998, Lewis defeated Shannon Briggs to successfully defend his crown for the 3rd time. Six months later Lewis fulfilled his mandatory defence requirement by defeating the WBC's first-ranked heavyweight contender, Zeljko Mavrovic.
On 13 March 1999, Lewis fought World Boxing Association/International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield for the undisputed world heavyweight championship. In one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history, the judges called the bout a draw, though Lewis had clearly dominated Holyfield through 12 rounds. The decision ignited a backlash of investigations and subsequent indictments. For many observers, this most recent outrage was symptomatic of a widespread lack of integrity in boxing that had eroded its meaningfulness as a professional sport. In the $30 million rematch on 13 November 1999, Lewis won by a unanimous decision.
Recognized for his amateur successes, Lewis is a Member of the Order of Canada.