Boxing’s living legend, Lennox Lewis, shares his thoughts on his professional aspirations since retiring as undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
By Benjamin Minkus
It’s all about family, my boy and girl, all about health, and all about continuing to be successful, and being more successful than before.
Haute Living You retired from boxing at the top of your game. What is it about the new challenges that interest you so much?
Lennox Lewis: I think once your goals are reached, you have to set others. I reached my goal of being undisputed heavyweight champ in boxing; I couldn’t go any higher. My hero growing up was Muhammad Ali. People would always say, “He was a great fighter, but he stayed in it too long.” That made me realize I don’t want to be a boxer all my life, and my son and daughter can see me in another context-like a movie-and see what I’ve built after boxing.
HL: Which acting opportunities interest you the most?
LL: Really, I haven’t thought about it much. Since my face is recognizable, in that aspect, I have to be careful with the roles I choose. My roles would have to be unassuming, unique, and fit my character makeup.
HL: You were a contestant on the celebrity edition of The Apprentice. What was that experience like? Which contestants impressed you the most?
LL: It was definitely enlightening and fun. It was all done for charity and I had fun doing it. It’s funny; I always thought I’d never be on a reality show, not me. But this was more civilized. Gene Simmons is definitely an unusual guy, with an unusually long tongue, which he flaps out every once in a while. But he was definitely mentoring in the sense that you can speak with him, and you learn a great deal. In some of the tasks we did, what he thought of, he’s been getting his point across that you need to do it his way, and he showed he was a very authoritative person-tunnel vision to a certain degree. Being around him, you learn how he’s become successful.
HL: Are there any attributes that made you so successful in boxing that carry over into the new ventures you are involved with?
LL: Drive, wanting to win, and not believing in “can’t.” There is no “can’t” in my mind. There has to be a way; you have to make progress.
HL: You’ve worked extensively with Don King in the past. What has he taught you over the years?
LL: Oh, every time I’m around him, my antennae are always up, because he is so profound in his thought patterns, what he’s doing, and his thinking-he’s a walking promoter. Many boxers may step into the ring, but there’s only one King.
HL: Tell us a little about “chess boxing”-that sounds like an interesting spoart. How do you like the combination of mental and physical challenges?
LL: Well, chess is a game that was taught to me by my amateur trainer, and he was from Romania. Every time we were in camp, we didn’t have anything to do, but chess kept us occupied, plus it’s a game of strategy, and I put that toward the boxing in the sense that it’s a thinking man’s game. Chess boxing is really just that; you switch between the two, and if you win at one, you’ve defeated your opponent. Speed chess is even better because you break down situations more like in the ring, when punches are coming at you and you have to break down your opponent, so chess helps to exercise that.
HL: What does 2008 hold in store for Lennox Lewis?
LL: It’s all about family, my boy and girl, all about health, and all about continuing to be successful, and being more successful than before.