Just kidding. But he does like to horse around with the game. Andrew Golota loves to play tennis too. Maybe if we email HBO enough, they could set up a PPV tennis match between them with a boxing ring in the backround. So if things get a little too heated on court, they could just move the game to the ring!
Mano-a-Mano: Lennox Lewis talks tennis
By Mark Malinowski
You don't normally associate a world heavyweight champion with tennis. Mike Tyson
, Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson weren’t known for spending their leisure time hitting forehands, backhands or practicing their second serves.
But one all-time great of the ring is an avid fan of the sport
and also a dedicated practitioner. Former champ Lennox Lewis, who retired in 2004 with a record of 41-2-1 (32 KOs), plays singles or doubles with friends "every day" on the court in his Miami home (seen right
). He even feels playing tennis during his boxing career helped him perform in the ring.
"Just moving around on the court helped,” he said. “You have to get your body in great position, behind the ball. You have to move your legs. Anticipation, running
to the net, hitting lobs – it all works from coordination. Any time you play a cross-over sport, it adds to your coordination.”
Lewis was introduced to tennis early in his childhood. "It was in school when I was in gym class when I first touched a racquet,” he said. “I remember I liked it instantly... I enjoy the challenge of getting the ball over the net, getting the ball into the box. And being able to run around and whack the ball.
”And in one sense it's, for me, a stress reliever. How does it release stress? Just the hitting of the ball and releasing the whole different energy. It feels good."
During training camp for the Francois "White Buffalo" Botha fight in July 2000, Lewis insisted on playing tennis on the last day of camp. The risk of an ankle or foot injury so close to a major championship fight could not quell the champ's desire to have a hit.
"We were up in the Poconos [in Pennsylvania]. There’s usually bad weather up there, and I always wanted to play. The last weekend of the camp before the fight it was perfect tennis weather, so I just wanted to take advantage of it,” he recalled. “We played doubles because they didn't want to run me around so much."
Two weeks after demolishing Mike Tyson by 8th-round KO on June 8, 2002, Lewis attended his first live professional tournament. "The first time was at Wimbledon. I saw Serena play on Centre Court,” he said. “My thinking of it was – this is actually like chess, because everybody is so calm and relaxed. I'm used to soccer and basketball matches - everybody is all hyped. But this one is like, ‘Hey, this is nice and cool. It's like a garden party kind of thing.’”
Lewis's greatest tennis moment was meeting and befriending one of his tennis idols. "Yeah, man, meeting McEnroe. Obviously, I've liked his style of play for such a while. I met him actually a couple of times - in Los Angeles was one. The next time was at The Garden at a fight."
Lewis is a natural athlete who’s reported to be very good at every sport he's ever played - including high school football
as a running back, basketball, soccer, golf, billiards, ping pong, and chess.
His assessment of his tennis game is mixed. "My serve is becoming a lot better because what I find is my percentage of the first one in is very high. I just visualize it,” he said. And I've actually worked on my serve. I've gone out there with a few cans of ***** and just hit it as hard as I can, trying to get it over the net. And I realized it's just like shooting foul shots in basketball.”
The champ is still working on his weakness, a backhand that's too defensive. "I slice the backhand. I don't really hit topspin backhands. Whenever I need to win the point I just slice it back. I'm working on it though," he added.
Lewis considers himself a fan of both the WTA and ATP Tours, and his favorite players are: "The Williams sisters."
Tennis, like boxing, features one-on-one combat. Which ATP player does Lewis think has the best attributes to become a boxing champion? "Oh, that's a hard one for me,” he said. “The only answer I can give you is – whoever wants it the most."
And which boxer would be the best tennis player?
"I would have to put myself,” he said. “I haven't seen any other boxers that can play tennis. That's funny you say that. That would be interesting – to have like a mini-tournament with all the boxers in it, and see who's the king."
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