Lewis, Ted "Kid" : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Lewis, Ted "Kid"

Gershon Mendeloff

A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Lewis was the world welterweight champion in 1915-16, and again from 1917-19. Also nicknamed the "Aldgate Sphinx," the "Kid" was the first fighter to use a protective mouthpiece, and fought in six different divisions in his 20-year career. The Boxing Register: The International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book wrote that Lewis was "perhaps the best pound-for-pound boxer England has ever produced."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. October 24, 1894 - d. October 20, 1970

Career Highlights:
The son of a cabinet maker in London's East End, Lewis began his professional boxing career in September 1909 at the age of 14; his prize was a cup of tea and sixpence. For his next victory, he won a silver cup; but his rewards became greater with every subsequent victory. In 1911, Lewis fought an incredible 58 bouts, losing only three, then followed that up by fighting 39 more times in 1912 (only four losses), and steadily rising up the ranks of the British featherweights. By 1913, he was a contender for the British title and after defeating Joe Starmer in an elimination bout in June, Lewis, at the ripe old age of 18, became England's youngest boxing champion when he knocked out Alec Lambert in the 17th-round to win the British featherweight title.

Not resting on his laurels, "Kid" won the European featherweight title on a disqualification against Paul Til in the 12th-round four months later. After a quick tour of Australia, where Lewis won four of five fights, he arrived in North America in November 1911. With bouts in such cities as Philadelphia, New York, Havana, Buffalo, and Montreal, Lewis went undefeated in his first 15 fights. His success prompted world welterweight champion Jack Britton to give Lewis a title bout. The two had previously fought in March with the bout ending in a 10-round no decision. The title bout took place on August 31, 1915 in Boston, with Lewis winning a 12-round decision. Only 21-years old, Ted Lewis, formerly Gershon Mendeloff, was champion of the world.

A month later, Lewis and Britton fought again, this time in a non-title bout, and Lewis was again the victor in a 12-round decision. The Lewis-Britton rivalry is considered one of greatest in ring history as they fought for the title five times with Lewis winning two and Britton three. Maybe more importantly though, was that they engaged in an additional sixteen non-title bouts in a six year span; combined, the two great fighters fought for a total of 224 rounds. The title bouts took place in April 1916 when Lewis lost the title, June 1917 when he regained it before losing it for a final time in March 1919. In February 1921, Lewis lost to Britton in an attempt to regain the title; it was the final time they would meet. During his six-year rivalry with Britton, Lewis fought 87 bouts against other fighters, and lost only four (he and the great Benny Leonard fought a 10-round no decision in 1918).

Although the rivalry was over by 1921, Lewis' career as a champion was not. In March 1920, he won the British welterweight title by knocking out Johnny Bee in the fourth-round. Lewis then proceeded to knock out Johnny Basham in the ninth-round on June 9 to capture the European, Commonwealth, and British welterweight titles. He defeated Basham again five months later, but relinquished the European title in December 1920. After losing to Britton in their final fight, Lewis then won the vacant British middleweight title by defeating Jack Bloomfield in a 20-round decision. Defeating Basham for a third time in October 1921 by a 12-round knockout to retain the British welterweight title and win the European middleweight champion, Lewis then had one of his most famous fights the following year.

In May 1922, Lewis, the British middleweight and welterweight champion and the European middleweight, fought Georges Carpentier for the world light-heavyweight championship. In the first round, the referee made a comment to Lewis, who dropped his guard to catch what the referee had said, and to complain that Carpentier had hit him below the belt. Carpentier threw a vicious right to Lewis' jaw, sending him to the canvas. The referee counted him out. Despite the loss, Lewis continued to fight often, winning the British Empire middleweight title in June 1922, and then successfully defending his three middleweight titles (British, British Empire, and European) in November 1922 against Roland Todd. Although he lost a rematch with Todd three months later, Lewis held onto his welterweight titles until November 1924, when he lost to Tommy Milligan in 20-round decision.

Lewis slowed down a bit after losing to Milligan, but he did continue to fight. Fighting in England and South Africa from 1925-1928, Lewis made one last visit to the U.S. in June 1928 to fight the great Maxie Rosenbloom. The bout between the two great Jewish fighters lasted only six-rounds when Lewis was disqualified for a foul. The following year, Lewis retired with an incredible 215 career victories. In 1964, Lewis was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame; and in 1992, "Kid" was also voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is, as well, a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

London, England

Physical description:
5'8-1/2", 116-166 pounds

Career Statistics:
Professional record:
Wins: 215 (71 by knockout)
Losses: 44
Draws: 24

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Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co, 1965)