Issue | News | Premium | Jan 13 2020

Paying tribute to Percy Lewis

Percy Lewis, 'quiet, unassuming and a gentleman,' was a former Commonwealth champion who became coach of the Oxford University boxing team
Percy Lewis

ONE death that somehow didn’t get recorded was that of that fine featherweight, Percy Lewis, who passed away in October at the age of 91. I’m grateful to London EBA member Robert High for giving me the news, and Percy was included in the Minute’s Silence at LEBA’s January meeting.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Percy turned pro with the legendary Jim Wicks (who of course guided Henry and Jim Cooper, amongst others). He had 30 bouts in all, winning 19 and drawing one. He met some of the best, twice going the distance with future world champion Hogan “Kid” Bassey of Nigeria – the second time was a challenge for Bassey’s Commonwealth title, and Lewis had the champion down in the 10th round. After Bassey relinquished the title, Lewis won the vacant belt by halting Charlie Hill in 10 rounds. He successfully defended against future champion John O’Brien, of Scotland, but lost to Ghana’s Floyd Robertson, whom he had previously beaten in a non-title bout. He boxed in Europe and Africa, as well as the UK, signing off in 1962 after dropping a 10-round verdict to another quality Ghanaian, Joe Tetteh, in Accra. After retiring he became coach for the Oxford University team. He was also a LEBA member for many years. In paying tribute to him, President Stephen Powell described him as “quiet and unassuming – a gentleman.”

Stephen also paid tribute to former BN amateur correspondent Brian Pigden (“a lovely man who produced first-class reports – a real friend to boxers”); former WBC super-lightweight champion Saoul Mamby; star referee Larry O’Connell, who was a LEBA member for many years, regularly attending meetings; and singer Kenny Lynch, who loved boxing and more than once put on a show at LEBA functions. Among those present were promoter Harry Holland, Michael Lordan from Home Counties, Tom Burling and Raymond Lee from Essex EBA and Joy and Stan White from Bournemouth.


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