International Boxing Hall of Fame
Ted "Kid" Lewis
|Ted "Kid" Lewis|
|Real name||Gershon Mendeloff|
|Birth date||Varies depending on source, either October 28, 1893 or October 24, 1894|
|Death date||October 20, 1970 (aged 75)|
|Wins by KO||80|
It was as a member of London’s Judean Athletic Club that Mendeloff assumed the name “Kid” Lewis ("Ted" was added later, in America). At 14 he fought for sixpence and a cup of tea. He later won the Club’s flyweight title, and took home a cup of imitation silver.
He became a professional boxer in 1909. On October 6, 1913, Lewis won the British featherweight crown with a 17th round knockout of Alec Lambert at London’s National Sporting Club. A year later, on February 2, 1914, at London’s Premierland, he won the European featherweight title from Paul Til via a 12th round foul.
Still in 1914, campaigning as a lightweight and welterweight, Lewis left London and toured Australia. In 1915 Lewis traveled to the United States, fighting Phil Bloom in New York’s Madison Square Garden. He won a decision.
In Boston’s Armory, on August 31st of that same year, he fought the man known as the “Boxing Marvel," Jack Britton, for the welterweight crown. Lewis won in a twelve-round decision, becoming welterweight world champion and beginning an historic rivalry. From 1915 to 1921 Lewis and Britton fought 20 times, a total of 224 rounds.
On April 24, 1916, in New Orleans, Lewis lost the title to Britton. He reclaimed it on June 25, 1917, at Westwood Field, Dayton, Ohio. He lost the title for the last time on March 17, 1919, in Canton, Ohio, when Britton knocked him out in the 9th round — the only knockout of the series.
The roundup of his matches with Britton: Lewis won 3, lost 4, and had 1 draw. There were 12 no decisions. After his last loss to Britton, Lewis returned to England.
On June 9, 1920, at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, he beat Johnny Basham to win the British and European welterweight titles. He relinquished these in December of that year due to difficulty in making the weight.
His drive to fight Georges Carpentier, world and European Light Heavyweight champion, came to fruition on May 11, 1922, in the Olympia. Lewis, fighting at 150 pounds to Carpentier’s 175, spent most of the first round giving the heavier man a drubbing. Then referee Joe Palmer put a hand on Lewis’s shoulder to warn him against holding. Carpentier took advantage of this distraction and sneaked in a vicious right. The Kid went crashing to the canvas and was counted out. The Olympia crowd erupted furiously, crying, “foul,” but to no avail. The Kid remained nonplussed. “I felt cheated, but I didn’t bear any grudge,” he would later say.
On June 6, 1922, at Holland Park Rink, London, Lewis knocked out Frankie Burns to win the British middleweight title. On November 11 of the same year, also at Holland Park Rink, he beat Roland Todd to win the European middleweight title. He did not hold either title long, losing both at the Royal Albert Hall on February 15, 1923, after a grueling rematch with Todd.
Lewis won his last two titles, the British and European welterweight crowns, on July 3, 1924 — again at London’s Royal Albert Hall — by defeating Hamilton Johnny Brown. Two years later, on November 26, 1924, at Waverley Market Hall in Edinburgh, he lost these championships to the much younger Scotsman, Tommy Milligan.
He continued boxing until 1929, adding 20 more fights. His final record was: 279 bouts, 170 won, 30 lost, 13 draws, 66 no decisions, 70 knockouts.
Lewis started his career as an evasive boxer, with a long left. During the six years he spent in America he changed his style, becoming a swarming, combination boxer-fighter.
He was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1964.
Bert Randolph Sugar, in his authoritative book, The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time, ranked Lewis # 33, ahead of such fighters as “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, Jake LaMotta, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Georges Carpentier.