LENNOX LEWIS and I grew up together in Kitchener, Ontario. I was an American football player – this is where my fascination with conditioning developed. In 1990, I started to work with Lennox in a professional capacity, writing programmes for him. Right up until the first fight with Oliver McCall , Lennox’s coach [John Davenport] set him a target weight, even though Lennox was a heavyweight. He walked around at 245lbs but they wanted him weighing in at 225lbs, even though Lennox would lose strength when dropping those 20lbs. The day after the loss to McCall, by six or seven in the morning, Lennox had worked out what he wanted to do. He drew up a list of trainers he wanted to meet. I remember him saying at the time, “I don’t care what it costs – get me the best trainer.” This led Lennox to working with Emanuel Steward, who wanted Lennox to fight at his natural weight.
A lot of coaches in boxing are traditional. They’re not educated in the modern ways. But Emanuel used to say that when he was around boxers he felt old, so he always took a ‘when in Rome’ approach and felt he had to adjust and get used to what they’re doing.
So when Emanuel started working with Lennox, he came in and said, “Tell me what you do and the benefits of it.” Emanuel saw what weight-training had done for Evander [Holyfield], who put on 20lbs of muscle and was knocking big guys out, so that made it easier for me to do what we had to do with Lennox’s programme. If you have the right coach, it makes it easier.