Titles: Light heavyweight champion 1935-1939 Record: 103-8-6 Born: May 1, 1914 in Los Angeles, California, USA Years active: 1928-1939 Nickname: None A outstanding light heavyweight who seems to have been lost in the history of boxing. I think he could have beaten any of the great light heavyweights who are often mentioned before him such as Archie Moore, Bob Foster and Michael Spinks. Unfortunately most seem to only acknowledge him for is one round knockout loss to Joe Louis in his last fight, when he was virtually blind. Lewis relied on speed over power but make no mistake he had power in both hands but preferred to use his clever boxing skills. I guess you can say he was the a Roy Jones of his generation. Perhaps Lewis did this because of his 15th fight in which Sam Terrain died after the knockout loss at the hands of Lewis. Lewis made his pro debut at the age of 14 and sadly by the age of 24 he could not see how many fingers a doctor held up only 18 inches away from his eyes. Cataracts was his worst enemy and one can only imagine how could he could have been. Lewis dominated his division like few before or after him from the moment he won the title in 1935 from Bob Olin until his retirement in 1939. Lewis started his career in the west coast boxing in Arizona against the best opposition he could find and quickly made a name for himself with his powerful hands and impressive physique. Those impressive wins carried him to the fight capital of the West Coast San Francisco and better opposition. In his first 56 fights he would only loose twice to future champions Maxie Rosenbloom (which he twice avenged) and James J. Braddock (won first bout but lost second). Rosenbloom was his nemesis and holds a 3 to 2 advantage in their meetings, his grab and move style just gave Lewis and others fits. Lewis would gain the attention of both San Francisco and the boxing world by defeating the larger James Braddock upon his arrival. Still it took Lewis 8 years to get a title shot and when he got and won it he made the most of his title never loosing it in the ring. Lewis lost two of his fights before that title fight and was thought to be a bit of a shot fighter but he soon proved Olin and his manager wrong. It was a easy 15 round win for Lewis as Olin absorbed a frightening beating he would never really recover (lost next 11 of 17) from to challenge again. Lewis was the first black man to win the light heavyweight title. Lewis was never paid for this fight as the crowd was too sparse to generate a good live gate. Perhaps they were right about Lewis being on the down side of his career at the age of 21 since Lewis lost his next fight (non title) to Rosenbloom in the best and most a hard fought in their series. But Lewis would go on to defend his title 5 times and make 51 non title fights. All while slowly going blind, no one is really sure when his eye problems began. Still Lewis beat back the challenges of such good fighters as Jock McAvoy, Emilio Martinez and Al Gainer all very good fighters. The problem for Lewis was that he was a black man who could not draw large crowds, so he had to fight often (18 no title fights in 1937 alone) instead. Maybe the best performance of his career came when he defeated another very underrated boxer Len Harvey in the challengers hometown. After a good start Harvey quickly faded under the pressure of Lewis but found his second wind late in the fight. It was not enough as Lewis pulled out a close points win in a chess match of a fight. Knowing his career was nearly over heavyweight champion and close friend Joe Louis gave John Lewis a shot at his title and one last payday. Lewis gave up his title and moved up to heavyweight for the challenge. Louis did not carry Lewis the way he did other opponents instead seeking to end the fight fast and not punish Lewis unnecessarily. And fast it was, as a virtually blind Lewis was knocked out in 2 minutes and 29 seconds. Lewis would never box again, "The Brown Bomber" was the only man to ever knock him out. Still Lewis had a brilliant career fighting both blindness and larger men in search of fame that history seems to have robbed him off.
1928 Buster Grant Phoenix, Az W 4 Kid Tapia Phoenix, Az KO 2 1929 Jake Henderson Phoenix, Az W 4 1930 Dynamite Hunter Phoenix, Az D 4 Louis Pete Phoenix, Az KO 4 Roy Gunn Phoenix, Az KO 3 Kid Val Don Phoenix, Az KO 3 Sammy Bass Phoenix, Az KO 1 Ray Imm Phoenix, Az KO 4 Jake Henderson Phoenix, Az KO 4 Young Tiger Flowers Phoenix, Az W 6 Young Tiger Flowers Phoenix, Az W 6 1931 Jan 30 Palmleaf Wright Phoenix, Az KO 2 Feb 6 Bob Richardson Phoenix, Az KO 2 Mar 11 Sam Terrain Prescott, Az KO 4 May 15 Tony Cadena Phoenix, Az KO 1 May 29 Evans Fortune Phoenix, Az KO 3 Jun 25 Herb Coleman Pasadena, Ca W 4 Jul 1 Lloyd Phelps Mesa, Az W 8 Sep 14 Joe Arcienega Phoenix, Az KO 5 Nov 27 The "School Boy" Phoenix, Az KO 3 1932 Apr 22 Yale Okun San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jul 13 Pietro Georgi San Francisco, Ca KO 1 Jul 29 Jimmy Hanna San Francisco, Ca KO 6 Sep 21 Jim Braddock San Francisco, Ca W 10 Oct 5 Fred Lenhart San Francisco, Ca KO 4 Oct 26 Lou Scozza San Francisco, Ca W 10 Nov 16 Maxie Rosenbloom San Francisco, Ca L 10 Dec 9 Tuffy Dial Phoenix, Az KO 4 1933 Feb 7 Terris Hill San Francisco, Ca KO 4 Apr 7 Emmett Rocco San Francisco, Ca TK 7 May 15 Tom Patrick San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jun 10 Fred Lenhart San Francisco, Ca D 10 Jul 10 Maxie Rosenbloom San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jul 31 Maxie Rosenbloom San Francisco, Ca W 10 Oct 31 Frank Rowsey Los Angeles, Ca W 10 1934 Feb 9 Bobby Brown Tucson, Az KO 1 Jun 6 Sandy Garrison Casanova Fort Hauchuca, Az KO 3 Jul 12 Bobby Brown Tucson, Az KO 3 Sep 3 Tony Poloni Reno, Nv KO 1 Sep 12 Norman Conrad Oakland, Ca W 10 Sep 20 Young Firpo Portland, Or D 10 Oct 3 Donald "Red" Barry San Francisco, Ca D 10 Oct 17 Pietro Georgi Oakland, Ca KO 2 Oct 31 Earl Wise Oakland, Ca KO 3 Nov 16 Jim Braddock New York, NY L 10 Nov 23 Yale Okun New York, NY KO 3 Dec 14 Tony Shucco New York, NY W 10 1935 Jan 29 Don Petrin Pittsburgh, Pa KO 7 Feb 25 Frank Wojack Syracuse, NY KO 3 Mar 4 Terry Mitchell Syracuse, NY KO 6 Mar 13 Emilio Martinez Denver, Co W 10 Apr 12 Bob Olin San Francisco, Ca W 10 May 10 Frank Rowsey San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jun 3 Tom Patrick Pittsburgh, Pa KO 1 Jun 24 Izzy Singer Paterson, NJ KO 1 Jul 8 Lou Poster Cleveland, Oh KO 5 Jul 17 Maxie Rosenbloom Oakland, Ca L 10 Jul 24 Abe Feldman New York, NY L 10 Oct 31 Bob Olin St. Louis, Mo W 15 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World Nov 29 Maxie Rosenbloom San Francisco, Ca L 10 Dec 11 Georgie Simpson Oakland, Ca KO 2 Dec 19 Coleman Johns Phoenix, Az KO 2 Dec 20 Dutch Weimer Tucson, Az W 10 1936 Jan 10 "Tiger" Jack Fox Spokane, Wa KO 3 Jan 17 Al Stillman St. Louis, Mo TK 4 Jan 29 Emilio Martinez Denver, Co L 10 Jan 31 Cyclone Lynch Walsenburg, Co KO 1 Mar 6 Eddie Simms St. Louis, Mo W 10 Mar 13 Jock McAvoy New York, NY W 15 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World Apr 7 George Nichols Buffalo, NY D 10 Apr 22 Izzy Singer Chicago, Il W 10 May 27 Charley Massera Pittsburgh, Pa W 10 May 29 Bob Godwin New York, NY KO 1 Jun 8 John Anderson New York, NY W 10 Jun 12 Dutch Weimer York, Pa TK 5 Jun 17 Tony Shucco St. Louis, Mo TK 8 Jun 22 Jimmy Merriott Peoria, Il KO 3 Jul 10 Max Marek Chicago, Il W 10 Jul 30 Al Gainer Pittsburgh, Pa W 12 Aug 12 George Nichols St. Louis, Mo W 10 Sep 17 Tiger Hairston Charleston, WV KO 1 Oct 2 Clarence "Red" Burman Chicago, Il KO 2 Nov 9 Len Harvey London, Eng W 15 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World 1937 Jan 4 Al Ettore Philadelphia, Pa D 10 Jan 11 Art Sykes Pittsburgh, Pa KO 6 Jan 28 Chester Palutis Scranton, Pa KO 7 Feb 8 Al Ettore Philadelphia, Pa W 15 Mar 15 Hans Birkie Philadelphia, Pa W 10 Apr 2 Donald "Red" Barry St. Louis, Mo KO 5 Apr 9 Babe Davis Indianapolis, In KO 3 Apr 13 Harold "Millionaire" Murphy Omaha, Ne KO 4 Apr 19 Pret Ferrar Des Moines, Ia KO 6 May 4 Emilio Martinez St. Louis, Mo W 10 May 14 Patsy Perroni New York, NY W 10 May 21 Jack Kranz Kansas City, Mo KO 3 Jun 3 Bob Olin St. Louis, Mo TKO 8 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World Jun 15 Al Ettore Philadelphia, Pa W 10 Jun 28 Willie Reddish Washington, DC W 10 Aug 19 Italo Colonello Pittsburgh, Pa W 12 Oct 15 Isadore Gastanaga Detroit, Mi L 10 Nov 26 Salvatore Ruggirello Minneapolis, Mn KO 4 Dec 12 Isadore Gastanaga St. Louis, Mo TK 9 Dec 17 Johnny Risko Cleveland, Oh W 10 1938 Jan 10 Leonard Neblett Nashville, Tn TK 8 Jan 18 Marty Gallagher St. Louis, Mo KO 3 Jan 31 Emil Scholz Pittsburgh, Pa W 10 Feb 11 Fred Lenhart St. Louis, Mo KO 3 Mar 25 Bud Mignault St. Paul, Mn W 10 Apr 4 Bob Tow (Jack Tunney) Philadelphia, Pa W 10 Apr 25 Emilio Martinez Minneapolis, Mn KO 4 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World May 5 Domenico Ceccarelli Baltimore, Md W 10 May 19 Elmer "Violent" Ray Atlanta, Ga KO 12 Aug 25 Domenico Ceccarelli Nutley, NJ KO 3 Sep 15 Jimmy Adamick Philadelphia, Pa W 10 Oct 28 Al Gainer New Haven, Ct W 15 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World 1939 Jan 25 Joe Louis New York, NY Koby 1 -Heavyweight Championship of the World