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Old 02-06-2008, 05:22 AM   #1
DamonD
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Default Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

I don't think the careers of Vitali and Corrie ended up quite the way he expected, but here's his retirement speech in full.
I thought it might be more suitable for the Classic Forum than General.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
February 6th 2004:

I am announcing the end of an important chapter of my life and the
beginning of a new one. June 21, 2003, was my last fight as a professional
boxer.

When 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. During the past twenty-three years, I have
set a number of goals for myself and I'm proud to say that these goals
have been achieved. Now I am ready to set new goals and start a new
career for myself outside of the ring.

I've tried to be a good champion and believe that I've practiced my
trade in a manner befitting a sport that I call "the sweet science." I
experienced some wonderful victories. And I learned that defeat, properly
handled, makes a person stronger.

I'm proud to have returned the undisputed heavyweight championship of
the world to England, a nation with a historic boxing tradition, and to
have been the first heavyweight champion from England since Bob
Fitzsimmons more than a century ago.

I am particularly pleased to be stepping down while still the reigning
lineal heavyweight champion. Only two other men, Gene Tunney and Rocky
Marciano, have retired as champion and stayed retired. I promise you, I
will be the third.

Deciding to end my career as a professional boxer was not an easy
decision to make. I've been offered millions of dollars to fight again,
which is all the more tempting because I believe that there are more
championship-quality fights in me. In many ways, continuing to fight would be
the easiest course of action. That said, I am mindful of what happens
to fighters in and out of the ring as they age. I believe that, without
being able to devote the same energy, passion, and desire to boxing
that I felt from the start, I should not enter the ring again.

Time and experience often give birth to a re-examination of values and
a refocusing of perspective. Being champion for as long as I have has
allowed me the luxury of learning on the job. One of the first things I
learned was that being heavyweight champion is a role that carries with
it responsibilities that go far beyond the ring. As a competitor, as a
professional, and as a human being, I have tried to do my best to
fulfill these responsibilities. I've tried to treat people with respect.
I've tried to demonstrate the importance of hard work and sacrifice in
achieving goals, I have lived by the code that, if a job is worth doing,
it should be done properly.

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.

I am proud that I have the luxury of ending my career on my own terms.
This should serve as a real-life example for other boxers and
professional athletes. Boxers, like all athletes, must realize how important it
is for them to understand every aspect of the business dealings that
surround them.

I am excited about the future of boxing. I know Vitali Klitschko is
disappointed that we won't be facing each other in the ring again. But the
challenge before him now is the same challenge that I faced years ago;
to become the best heavyweight of his generation. I look forward to
watching Vitali, Corrie Sanders, and other boxers compete for that
honour.

This is a time of reflection for me, but also a time of gratitude. A
champion is not made in isolation. I owe so much to my Team which has
been led for many years by my Mum, Violet Blake. One lesson she taught me
is that it is easy to be around when everything is going well, but that
true loyalty and love are expressed and revealed during hard times.
The lessons I learned from her have served me well over the years and
kept me grounded. And my respect for her has continued to grow as I've
matured and come to understand the sacrifices she made to help me.

I'm also fortunate to have been surrounded by an amazing group of
people; many of whom put their own lives and the lives of their families on
hold to help make me a better person and a better boxer through their
loyalty, encouragement, and support.

Courtney Shand, my physical conditioner, has been my friend since I was
fifteen years old. His total honesty and attention to the smallest
details have been invaluable to me.

Prince Osei Poku, Patrick Drayton, Egerton Marcus, Ron Hepburn, Scott
DeMercado, Kojo Amoafo, Joe Dunbar, Leigh McGinniss, and Dennis Lewis
all members of Team Lewis --were voices in my head that made me run a
little further, bike a little faster, play chess a little better, and
punch a little harder.

Arnie Boehm bought me my first headgear and gloves and, with Jerome
"Hook" McComb, began the task of training me at the Kitchener-Waterloo
Regional Boxing Association when I was fifteen years old. Then I earned
the right to represent my adoptive country of Canada at the 1984 and 1988
Summer Olympic Games and was fortunate to have the guidance of Adrian
Teodorescu as my coach.

Emanuel Steward did as much for me as any trainer ever did for a boxer.
There were times when Manny believed in me more than I believed in
myself. It took his insight and clear coaching style to improve on my raw
abilities. I'm proud that our names will be linked forever.

Harold Knight is the left hand to Manny's right and provided a
different perspective that proved invaluable and instrumental in my becoming an
even better boxer.

Adrian Ogun, Jerome Andersen and my management company, Sport
Entertainment & Media Group, have offered important business guidance. And in
addition to the members of Team Lewis whom I have highlighted here, there
are many more people, who worked behind the scenes on my behalf and in
support of my success.

Like many champions, I've had my disagreements with the press. But more
often than not, members of the media have returned to me the respect
that I tried to extend to them. I thank the press for understanding
that, while our careers have been linked, I'm the one who had to be
responsible for, and live with, the decisions I made and that I've always had
a life apart from what I did in the ring. Thank you for supporting me
while I became heavyweight champion on my own terms.

Thank you to HBO for supporting me throughout my career.

There are many more people I'm indebted to; and I will be thanking you
all personally in the days, months, and years ahead. But I want to say
"thank you" now to the people of England, where I was born; to the
people of Canada, where I was raised and nurtured, who gave me the honour
of representing them in the Olympic Games; to the people of Jamaica, my
ancestral home; to the people of the United States, who welcomed me to
their shores; and to all of the other fans who wished me well from
around the world. In difficult times, I was inspired by their faith in me.

A special thank you to each of the men I've fought. That includes
boxers like Ray Mercer, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson, who brought out
the best in me in the defining fights of my career. And thank you also
to all the other men who entered the ring to exchange blows with me.
They are part of my story and their names will go down in history in the
record book next to mine.

Thank you to all the people who fight an uphill battle against heavy
odds to make professional sports a better fairer business. Too often,
athletes are financially exploited by managers and promoters and
victimized by the corruption that pervades their sport. Boxing needs more people
with a commitment to the highest ethical standards. This is why I have
decided to accept a Director position with Sport Entertainment & Media
Group, my management company. Having been in the sport for much of my
life, I think it's important that I share my knowledge with young and experienced
athletes.

I am proud to have been recognized as the best heavyweight of my time;
a distinction which links me with great boxers like Jack Johnson, Jack
Dempsey, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, and Larry Holmes. While I may be
retiring from the ring, I will do my best to continue to live my life as a
champion.

I'm still a young man. Many exciting experiences await me. I look
forward to seeing all of you in the months and years ahead. It is an honour
to have been your heavyweight champion of the world.

Let the new era begin,

Lennox Lewis
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Old 02-06-2008, 08:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

Interesting that he listed Mercer along with Holyfield and Tyson as his defining fights.
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

He didn't thank Frank Maloney, his manager for most of his career. There must have been some real bitterness there.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

You may know this anyway but...Maloney really made a rod for his own back after the Rahman loss.

He and Steward weren't exactly the best of chums anyway, Manny saw him as unnecessarily abrasive and unhelpful to Lewis's image in the States. After Rahman I, Maloney went public and blamed Manny for just about everything under the sun, not just this loss but any and all difficulties over the previous 6 years.

It got to the point where it became a "it's me or him" situation...and Lewis stuck with Manny.

Kind of ironic, because that's how Lewis's first pro manager (Jack Davenport) moved on. He and Maloney rubbed each other the wrong way and, that time, Lewis stuck with Maloney.

Lewis might have thanked Maloney privately, though...you never know.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny's jab
He didn't thank Frank Maloney, his manager for most of his career. There must have been some real bitterness there.
He and Maloney had a court case pending at the time and Maloney was threatening to write a tell it all book about Lewis or something, they settled out of court in the end.

Since then they seem to have patched it up and Maloney has sent David Haye out to Miami a couple of times to train with Lewis.
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

Remember all the Maloney-Duff-******-Hearn catfighting that used to go on?
Some tremendous skullduggery and back-biting went on there.
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

I think Maloney was right to blame Manny Steward for the Rahman loss.
Steward was a disgrace, and should have been sacked.

But Lewis obviously felt Steward really helped him overall - and who am I to argue ? - and Lewis never lost again with Steward in his corner.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

I don't think it's Steward's fault. It's Lewis' fault. He was the one going into movies and making the final decisions on training. For all we know, Steward may have been pissed off behind the scene in preparation to the first Rahman fight, but never mentioned it because he's a professional. Lewis blamed himself. I think it's too easy to blame everything on the trainer (a tradition in soccer), when you know damn well that you should've stepped up yourself.

Steward was the perfect trainer for Lewis because he's an expert working with tall, powerful and rangy fighters.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

steward does stand for too much nonsense in camp,remember how he was so annoyed at Hameds preparation for Barrerra but yet stuck around instead of laying down the law and walking out. He is out for glory which is why i believe he hangs around, when Nas lost he was quick to jump ship!
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
I don't think it's Steward's fault. It's Lewis' fault. He was the one going into movies and making the final decisions on training. For all we know, Steward may have been pissed off behind the scene in preparation to the first Rahman fight, but never mentioned it because he's a professional. Lewis blamed himself. I think it's too easy to blame everything on the trainer (a tradition in soccer), when you know damn well that you should've stepped up yourself.

Steward was the perfect trainer for Lewis because he's an expert working with tall, powerful and rangy fighters.
When asked about acclimatising to the high altitude, Steward said "Guys like me and Lennox, we do a lot of travelling, we dont need to acclimatise"
I SAW HIM SAY THIS ON TELEVISION.
He scoffed at suggestions that high altitude would be a factor, and CONTINUED TO STICK TO THAT LINE AFTER THE DEFEAT.

While Lewis was making Ocean's Eleven, Steward was training Naseem Hamed for his fight with Barrera.
He was taking the money, and going along with the idea that Lewis's didn't need much prep for Hasim Rahman.

Just because Steward has a great record as a trainer doesn't mean he didn't **** up badly, neglect his work. He's NOT beyong criticism.

I find it laughable that so much of Lewis's pre-Steward flaws, and lazy development are blamed firmly on his previous trainers, but in what is quite a CLEAR CASE of a trainer neglecting his duty (Lewis-Rahman), Manny Steward gets off scot-free !
Talk about favouritism.

Good trainers have WALKED away(or threatened to walk), either before or after a fight, and given up big pay checks, when a fighter has refused to buckle down to serious prep. All indications are that Steward believed Lewis didn't need to do much to beat Rahman, and was busy making extra money with Naseem Hamed at the time.

Steward is given leeway because of his "name". A lesser-known trainer would be getting a high degree of blame for what happened in South Africa.

Sure, the fighter is ultimately responsible, but trainers are paid to do their bit too.
Steward was as ****y about Lewis's ability as Lewis was himself.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:58 AM   #11
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

still got all this on tape.

frank maloney giving his views in the studio.

and then lenny coming out and announcing his retirement.

sad day.
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Old 02-07-2008, 08:13 AM   #12
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny's jab
When asked about acclimatising to the high altitude, Steward said "Guys like me and Lennox, we do a lot of travelling, we dont need to acclimatise"
I SAW HIM SAY THIS ON TELEVISION.
He scoffed at suggestions that high altitude would be a factor, and CONTINUED TO STICK TO THAT LINE AFTER THE DEFEAT.

While Lewis was making Ocean's Eleven, Steward was training Naseem Hamed for his fight with Barrera.
He was taking the money, and going along with the idea that Lewis's didn't need much prep for Hasim Rahman.

Just because Steward has a great record as a trainer doesn't mean he didn't **** up badly, neglect his work. He's NOT beyong criticism.

I find it laughable that so much of Lewis's pre-Steward flaws, and lazy development are blamed firmly on his previous trainers, but in what is quite a CLEAR CASE of a trainer neglecting his duty (Lewis-Rahman), Manny Steward gets off scot-free !
Talk about favouritism.

Good trainers have WALKED away(or threatened to walk), either before or after a fight, and given up big pay checks, when a fighter has refused to buckle down to serious prep. All indications are that Steward believed Lewis didn't need to do much to beat Rahman, and was busy making extra money with Naseem Hamed at the time.

Steward is given leeway because of his "name". A lesser-known trainer would be getting a high degree of blame for what happened in South Africa.

Sure, the fighter is ultimately responsible, but trainers are paid to do their bit too.
Steward was as ****y about Lewis's ability as Lewis was himself.

Yes, but you don't know whether or not Steward was being selective in what to say to the press. It wouldn't be smart for a trainer to say about his trainee that he's a dumbass for being in movies.

I never believed in the acclimatisation excuse, anyway. Sure, it may have had a little influence, but the lack of focus, movies etc was a much bigger factor.

And what did you want Steward to do when Lewis was doing movies? Coach Lewis on how to act with Brad Pitt?

About the previous trainers: the difference here is that Steward improved Lewis' style enormously. Lewis' loss to McCall was to a certain degree because his style was flawed, something Pepe Korea couldn't help him with. The Rahman loss was not of that nature.

The trainer is there to help the fighter out in technical ability, style wise improvement, in some but not all cases conditioning training and having a gameplan for the opponent. Whether or not a fighter does his roadwork etc, is the fighter's own decision, not the trainer's. They can like it or not, but in the end, it's not their call.

Steward has always believed in giving his fighters a lot of self confidence and although i agree he should've pushed Lewis more, i think in the end it is Lewis who is the blame for being stupid, not Steward. Do you blame Joe Louis for going to the golf course after 2 rounds before the first Schmeling fight or is that Blackburns' fault? Do you think Marciano deserves credit for always being in top condition or is that his trainer's achievement? Do you blame some of Tyson's losses when he was out of shape on Tyson or on his trainers? Do you think it's Toney's trainers' fault that he's such a fat ****?
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Old 02-07-2008, 09:40 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
Yes, but you don't know whether or not Steward was being selective in what to say to the press. It wouldn't be smart for a trainer to say about his trainee that he's a dumbass for being in movies.
He could have said so AFTER the fight. He could have threatened to walk from Lewis before the fight, before the movie. Training camp is training camp, and the trainer should have a load of authority.

You're giving Steward the benefit of the doubt, I'm just assessing him on all the apparent indications.
If this was a Holyfield or Tyson fight I would like to believe Steward would have walked, but I dont know.

Quote:
I never believed in the acclimatisation excuse, anyway. Sure, it may have had a little influence, but the lack of focus, movies etc was a much bigger factor.
The acclimitisation was an ISSUE BEFORE THE FIGHT.
I'm not saying it was the primary factor but it was quite a talking point. The fact that Rahman had got there weeks in advance, and the fact that the writers and boxers out there knew the difference, made Lewis's cavalier attitude conspicuous.
It was another INDICATION of the overall over-confidence. Steward chose to give interviews and give over-confident answers. You can argue that this was his cover-up but that is just giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Have any indications come to light that Steward wasn't really just as ****y and over-confident as Lewis ?

Quote:
And what did you want Steward to do when Lewis was doing movies? Coach Lewis on how to act with Brad Pitt?
Again, you're giving Steward the benefit of the doubt. It's as if Lewis decided not to train and make movies, against Steward's wishes, so Steward had to find something else to do ? More likely is that BOTH guys considered Rahman a soft-touch who was hardly worth bothering with. And Steward wanted the Hamed money.

Quote:
About the previous trainers: the difference here is that Steward improved Lewis' style enormously. Lewis' loss to McCall was to a certain degree because his style was flawed, something Pepe Korea couldn't help him with. The Rahman loss was not of that nature.
On the contrary, Rahman exploited a far worse flaw than McCall exploited. McCall had to time his right at the same time as Lewis started to throw his. Lewis tipped his right a bit, and dropped his left. McCall exploited this well.
Lewis against Rahman had no defense, footwork all skewed, just stood there looking completely amateurish, actually walked INTO the ropes under his own volition, and got KO'd. The flaws in Lewis at the point he got KO'd are so numerous it's worth wondering what he was doing correct.

Quote:
The trainer is there to help the fighter out in technical ability, style wise improvement, in some but not all cases conditioning training and having a gameplan for the opponent. Whether or not a fighter does his roadwork etc, is the fighter's own decision, not the trainer's. They can like it or not, but in the end, it's not their call.
Teddy Atlas would have fights with Michael Moorer when Moorer was trying to slack. He'd be on his door telling him to get his shoes on and run. Many old school trainers were similar. I tend to think Lewis was a more reasonable and less moody guy than Moorer, and would have listened to harsh reality. I suspect that Steward was genuinely as slack and over-confident about this fight as Lewis was.

Quote:
Steward has always believed in giving his fighters a lot of self confidence and although i agree he should've pushed Lewis more, i think in the end it is Lewis who is the blame for being stupid, not Steward. Do you blame Joe Louis for going to the golf course after 2 rounds before the first Schmeling fight or is that Blackburns' fault? Do you think Marciano deserves credit for always being in top condition or is that his trainer's achievement? Do you blame some of Tyson's losses when he was out of shape on Tyson or on his trainers? Do you think it's Toney's trainers' fault that he's such a fat ****?
There are credible reports that Blackburn did complain about Louis prior to the fight. But I think Schmeling fought one hell of a fight, to be honest. Louis's golfing may have played a part but I think Schmeling just beat him with clever boxing and counter-punching.

Yes, Goldman DID assist Marciano's conditioning. In some fights Marciano thought maybe Goldman had pushed him too hard and over-trained him, so Marciano cut down his training in his last fights, against Goldman's fierce protests. However, I thought Marciano looked better when he'd "over-trained" than in his fight with ****ell, where he cut back and looked a bit tired.
And we're just talking about the relative amount of training here, huge amounts, training camps, not whether a fighter is making movies or dismissing such considerations as high altitude acclimitisation.

Tyson is a different character to Lewis.
Firstly, he seems unpredicatable and unhinged, moody and manic depressive. Tyson changed trainers all the time. Yes, they failed. But the fact suggests he was a difficult person to succeed with.
Secondly, his trainers after Rooney were just trying to encourage him to go back to the D'amato style, they hadn't actually been involved in it.
Obviously, if Lewis credited Steward with making him a better fighter, and respected him for it, he would be open to listening to some home truths.
But I doubt any fierce confrontations occured over Lewis's relative slackness. I suspect that Steward was equally as ****y about Rahman as Lewis was.

A trainer has some responsibility, surely. If you asked a good trainer what those responsibilities are, I think he would say "It is my job to get my fighter fully prepared, mentally and physically, to compete at his best in the fight".
That is his job, his profession, that is what he is paid to do. So why shouldn't he be held to account when that job CLEARLY hasn't been done properly ?

Last edited by Cachibatches; 02-01-2007 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 02-07-2008, 09:53 AM   #14
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Default Re: Lewis's retirement speech - 4 years on

Lewis himself made no excuses after the loss, even when the interviewer suggested he wasnt in shape or aclimatised he refused to use those things as an excuse.

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Old 02-07-2008, 12:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barneyrub
Lewis himself made no excuses after the loss, even when the interviewer suggested he wasnt in shape or aclimatised he refused to use those things as an excuse.
He didn't admit his mistakes either, mistakes that many writers and commentators were talking about BEFORE he lost.

His weight, lack of acclimitisation, and making the movie, WERE mistakes. And mistakes that were being talked about before the fight.
I saw an interview BEFORE the Rahman fight where Lewis was asked about the movie and leaving it late to acclimatize to altitude, and he was asked whether he'd do the same if he was fighting Tyson. Lewis's answer was effectively "No, I'd train harder for Tyson. I'm not taking Rahman for granted, but I'd prepare much better for Tyson".

Everyone KNEW Lewis wasn't taking Rahman seriously, WE ALL KNEW IT, but we all thought the same as he did - ie. he's still gonna beat Rahman.

There are no "excuses" for losing, he got knocked out plain and simple. But he got knocked out because he made lots of mistakes.

(As a sidenote, a curious thing he said in the post-fight interview if I remember rightly, something like, "I know Hasim Rahman cant beat me."
I suppose that one-tracked delusional thinking is part of a mindset that made him successful in the first place. Kind of like Holyfield's "The only way you can lose is if you quit".)
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