Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was honored recently at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario with an honorary doctorate. The ceremony took place at the institution’s recreational complex gymnasium, where the famous boxer played basketball while growing up nearby after moving from London, where he was born.
The Miami Beach resident was accompanied by his mother, Violet Blake, and his seven-year-old son, Landon. The athlete expressed his happiness to have returned to his “old backyard” to receive the prestigious honor. His wife, former Miss Jamaica USA Violet Chang, and his two other children were unfortunately unable to attend.
“It’s with pride and humility that I accept this award and I can think of no other place to accept it than a place where I grew up,” said the Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute sports star who helped the school win the 1983 provincial hoops crown. “I used to play basketball here on weekends because I wanted to be a better player, and to do that, you had to play against better opponents.”
After winning several gold medals from an array of games, including the Olympics, the boxing legend went on to become king of the heavyweight division, winning 41 of his 44 professional fights with 32 knockouts before retiring seven years ago.
Throughout his career, Lewis stayed determined not to let himself be plagued by problems that many other boxers fell victim to – drugs, alcohol, bad management, and bankruptcy.
“I armed myself with knowledge to avoid those pitfalls and I became my own promoter and manager,” he said. “That was great because I obviously kept most of the money to myself. There was no need for me to share it because I was the only one stepping into the ring.”
Avoiding pitfalls, Lewis instead has devoted himself to helping disadvantaged children nad their families in the U.S., Canada, Jamaica, and England through his philanthropic Lennox Lewis Foundation.
“I felt it was very important to give back,” he said. “I asked myself what was my life’s purpose, what I enjoyed doing and what gives me the most pleasure? Giving back does and I love the fact that young mothers and fathers thank me for making a difference in the lives of their children.”
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