Sunday, August 9, 2015

TBG Book Review: Ted 'Kid" Lewis: His Life and Times

The Boxing Glove Sunday Book Review by Peter Silkov

“Ted Kid Lewis: His Life And Times”  by Morton Lewis

This week we are reviewing a book that was first published in 1990. “Ted Lewis: His Life And Times” by Morton Lewis.  Ted Kid Lewis has good cause to lay claim to being Britain’s greatest ever boxer. His career, which spanned from 1909 to 1929, is one of the most impressive of his time.  Beginning his career as a bantamweight, Lewis would climb the weight divisions all the way to the light-heavyweight class, even though he would never weigh much more than a middleweight himself.

Born Gershon Mendeloff, on October 28, 1893, in London, as Ted Kid Lewis, he would become one of Britain’s most exciting and respected fighters, taking America by storm, with a style that would gain him the nickname ‘The Crashing Dashing Bashing’ Ted Kid Lewis. 

Morton Lewis has written a fascinating biography about his father, a man who is a genuine ring legend, who won titles at multiple weights, and during the years 1914 to 1920, became Britain’s most popular and successful export to America.

“Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis: His Life And Times” is a captivating account of Lewis’s life and boxing career, from his earliest days growing up, to the ups and downs of his great boxing career, and finally his post boxing life.  It is a tale of rags to riches and then back again. Because of  Lewis’s strength of character and popularity, he and his wife Elsie lived in relative comfort into their later years.

Lewis career is a stark reminder of just how drastically boxing has changed in the last 100 years and how much harder the ‘hardest game’ used to be in Lewis’s time.  In 1912, at the age of just 18 years old, Lewis had no less than 39 contests, of which he lost only 4.  In his prime, Lewis thought nothing of fighting every two weeks, at least.  Indeed, he was of the old school of fighters who kept in fighting shape by fighting regularly, rather than spending months between fights toiling in the gym.

Lewis was a fearless man, always ready to fight anywhere and at any time, with no worry about the reputation or the size of his opponent; the bigger, both in size and reputation, was always the better for ‘The Kid.'

Even in today’s era, where weight jumping is common place and there are more titles than contenders, Lewis’s achievements are still unmatched, certainly by any other British fighter.  He won British and European titles at Featherweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and also won a British title at light heavyweight.

It is his feats at welterweight, which are most remarkable.  In all, Lewis fought 28 times for the World welterweight title, 15 of them against his archrival, Jack Britton.  The rivalry between Britton and Lewis has gone down as one of the greatest in boxing history, with the pair fighting no less than 20 times between 1915 and 1921, with 15 of these fights being for the World welterweight championship.  The two men dominated the World welterweight title for over half a decade, as they duelled against one another, again and again, for the title.

Lewis first won the world title in his 2nd fight with Britton, then lost it in his 6th fight with Britton, regained it in his 13th fight with Britton, only to finally lose it once more to Britton in their 18th meeting.  Lewis was the first British fighter to regain a world title, a feat that stood unequaled until the 1980s, when Dennis Andries won regained the World light-heavyweight championship.  Although by this time, there were already multiple ‘world champions.’

This book offers a fascinating insight into the boxing world during the 1910s – 1920s. The reader has to marvel at the toughness, determination, and courage of the fighter of this time. These boxers entered the rings week after week, months after month, often carrying injuries of fights, which they had received in previous fights just recently.  In such a world, it took very special breed to come out on top and dominate, and Lewis was indeed a very special fighter.  He is also shown to have been a man of great integrity throughout his life and career.  Taking the ups and downs of his career without bitterness, or self pity, even though he often had to deal with the darker side of the hardest game.

Like many of the greats of the ring, Lewis went through his money as quickly as he made it. He fought on long past his prime, but he never fell into bitterness or regret and instead, lived an active and contented life until his death in 1970, at the age of 76.

Although Morton Lewis is writing about his father, this biography is a well balanced account of one of Britain’s greatest fighters.  This is recommended reading for anyone who wants to read about a time when boxing was bursting at the seams with activity, and when champions were few, but contenders were many.

“Ted Kid Lewis: His Life And Times” has a good collection of photos, many of them rare, and never seen before in print.  There is also a full list of Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis’s boxing career in the back section of the book.

Despite his greatness, Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis is a name not readily recognized by many of today’s boxing fans. By writing this biography about his father, Morton Lewis has produced a wonderful work, which will keep his father's memory and accomplishments alive to boxing followers, both old and young.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and
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1 comment:

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