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John Henry Lewis

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.


John Henry Lewis

Career Record: 103 W, 8 L, 6 D, (60 KO's)


     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