History | Oct 20 2017

On This Day: Maybe the greatest fighting machine England has produced, Ted Kid Lewis, died

George Zeleny remembers the legendary Ted Kid Lewis – the East End lad who conquered the world
Ted Kid Lewis

POUND-for-pound, Ted Kid Lewis is still probably the greatest fighting machine England has produced. He began boxing as a flyweight at the age of 14 and battled in every division right up to heavyweight. Yet he seldom weighed more than 10st 12lbs. He boxed 42 fights involving championships holding 10 different world, British, British Empire (now Commonwealth) and European titles. His phenomenal 20-year career reached its peak when he campaigned in the United States. He had almost 100 fights in five years, travelling vast distances criss-crossing that continent. He shared the world welterweight title with the highly skilled Jack Britton, boxing him 20 times altogether before eventually losing the world championship to him in 1921.

Lewis had a relentless attacking style with an inexhaustible supply of energy. Known as the “Crashing, Dashing Kid” he feared no-one, however big they were. “I really loved to fight. I would take anyone on – the bigger the name, the better,” he insisted.

Born Gershon Mendeloff in London’s tough East End in October 1894, he began boxing in the nearby Judeans Athletic Club just off Cable Street, which staged tournaments on Sunday afternoons. Eager to fight and earn some money, Lewis emerged as a prodigious talent. After winning the British featherweight title in 1913 at the age of 17 and adding the European title the next year, he went on his travels. Campaigning in Australia, he participated in five 20-rounders in 63 days, losing only one decision.