Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN step in the ring with former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and delve the highs and lows of his professional career. Born in London, England to Jamaican parents, Lewis and his mother later migrated to Ontario, Canada where he began to take up boxing.
Earning a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics, Lewis turned pro, racking up 22 victories before winning his first title. Losing his belt in a controversial loss in 1994, he would eventually regain the title following a win against heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield in 1999. However, two years later, Lewis would be knocked out by Hasim Rahman, which many view as the only legitimate loss of his career.
Thd boxer would regain the title in a rematch, defending it against Mike Tyson and future champ Vitali Klitschko, before retiring as champion in 2004. Regarded as one of the greatest heavyweights of his era, Lewis is bonafide boxing royalty with a strong connection to hip hop, as evidenced by his forthcoming documentary narrated by Dr. Dre
To help give fans a recap of the episode, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from Lennox Lewis’ “Drink Champs” episode. Take a look at them below.
1. On Defeating Former Heavyweight Champ Riddick Bowe In The Olympics
Prior to turning pro, Lewis was touted as one of the best amateurs in the world, representing Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympics, where he defeated Brooklyn bred amateur Riddick Bowe to win the gold medal. According to Lewis, he predicted his knockout of Bowe to the future heavyweight champ himself, an exchange he speaks on during his time on “Drink Champs.” “I went to the Olympics and everybody kept on coming up to me saying, ‘Riddick Bowe says he’s gonna knock you out,’” Lewis recalls. “I’m like, ‘Who’s Riddick Bowe?’ And it was really members of the American team... so I asked one of the guys, ‘Can you take me to Riddick Bowe, please?’ So, we went and we found him... I seen him, walked up to him and said, ‘Listen, I’ma knock you out,’ then I walked away. Then he was like, ‘Who’s that, who’s that?’ He’s gonna find out who I am ‘cause I thought it was disrespectful for him to say he’s gonna beat me and he didn’t even know me. Who is this guy? I didn’t know him either. So, I’m glad that we fought and I knocked him out.”
2. On How It Feels When A Boxer Gets Knocked Out
In 2001, Lewis suffered the second and final loss of his career when he was stopped in the fifth round by fellow heavyweight Hasim Rahman during a title-fight in South Africa. When asked by N.O.R.E. how it feels to be knocked out, Lewis gives him a play-by-play of his own reaction when it occurred. “When me and him fought, he threw an unbelievable punch, which my chin happened to be in the way of,” the boxer jokes. “It felt slow, everything was going in slow motion and when I hit the ground, everything sped up. So yeah, in that fight, I never really got the opportunity to really come back and recover from it or anything, the referee just stopped the fight. But, this is what happens in boxing a lot, how do you come back from a loss? Well, for me, it was easy because I realized what I did wrong. It wasn’t like I got beat up or anything, I made a mistake. That mistake won’t happen again.”
3. On Meeting Nelson Mandela
Following his loss to Rahman, Lewis extended his stay in South Africa to visit Nelson Mandela, the president at the time, whom he speaks highly of. “I stayed, I met Mandela,” the British export reveals. “Mandela said, ‘Oh, don’t worry Lennox, you’ll get him next time. I know you.’ I’m like, ‘Mandela’s watching me.’ It was important to me ‘cause this man spent 27 years in jail for the rights of Black people. The prison is about as big as this room. How do you put a prison on an island and then make it a small prison, and then make the cell small? It’s like a mental thing. The person that actually showed us around was actually in jail with Mandela.”
4. On How The Politics Of Boxing Impacted His Bout Against Oliver McCall
In 1994, Lewis suffered his first loss as a professional, in questionable fashion, when he was stopped by Oliver McCall, but was believed to have answered the bell by many. However, when speaking on the loss, Lewis gives insight on how the politics and promotional aspects of boxing can impact a bout — for better or worse. “Boxing’s a funny game because if the promoter’s putting on a show, then he’s putting everything together,” he explains. “He brings in the judges, he brings in everybody. So, if it’s his show and his boxer’s boxing, it might be his referee. Well, after the fight, I actually seen the referee sitting at a big round-table, all dressed up with Don King. After the fight, I was going to the after-party, I’m like, ‘Wow.’”
5. On His Respect For Don King
Boxing promotor Don King is regarded as a pioneer within the sport, but is also infamous for his questionable business tactics, allegedly stealing millions of dollars from many of his biggest clients including Mike Tyson and Zab Judah. However, Lewis gives the icon his just due as a promotor and an influence on his own career dealings. “Don King’s a real nice guy,” the boxing legend offers. “Obviously, everybody knows about his promotional days and what he’s done, and his history. But, he’s a person that I kind’ve learned from. So, I watched and I learned from, and there’s a couple of things I picked up.”
6. On Handling Questionable Losses As A Boxer
When recounting his loss to McCall, Lewis speaks on the importance of handling adversity as a boxer and how it serves as a microcosm of life itself. “Every boxer’s been through their type of drama or situation where judges have gone against them,” he says. “Boxers go through their ups and downs, but you can’t let the downs affect you. You gotta see through it like life. All the downs, you gotta bring it back [up]. It’s how you deal with the downs, basically, which decides who you are.”
7. On The Impact Iconic Boxing Trainer Emanuel Steward Had On His Career
Midway through his career, Lewis sought out the services of iconic boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, who trained multiple boxing champions including Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko. The Canadian rep speaks on working with Steward and how his training helped elevate his prowess as a boxer. “He taught me so much and he knows so much,” Lewis says. “Great trainer, he’s the trainer of champions. When we had a fight coming, he would say to me, ‘Go watch the fight because you break down things easy. Good, I like the way you break things down.’ So, I looked at the fight, I broke it down, he came, he said, ‘That’s right, that’s what we need to do, plus this.’ So, he would add a little to it and we were a great team.”
8. How A High School Dance Jumpstarted His Boxing Career
According to Lewis, his career as a boxer was preceded as a brawler as a high school student. “It’s like we have all these different schools in Miami,” he begins. “Then, they say to you, okay, we’re gonna have a dance every month at a certain high school, but if anybody from any different high school goes there and fights, they’re expelled. So obviously, we went to this school, KCI, and the bad boys from there wanted to fight us ‘cause the girls liked us, obviously. And we said to them, ‘Listen, come down to the police boxing gym and box, and we’ll fight you down there’ because we couldn’t fight at the dance. So, they said ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna go, we’re gonna be there.’ They didn’t show up, me and my friend went, Andrew. Anyway, the trainer said, ‘Hey you,’ which is me. ‘Go move around with this guy,’ I moved around with this guy and then all of a sudden, he hit me in the nose and my eyes started watering, I didn’t like it. He said, ‘OK, don’t worry, don’t worry. Go with this guy.’ [He] put me in with a guy my size, I started doing Muhammad Ali, which is the only guy I watched on boxing and it felt good. It was like a game to me and that’s what caught me in boxing.”
9. N.O.R.E. On Ja Rule Telling Lennox Lewis He’d Lose To Mike Tyson
In the midst of discussing Lewis’ legendary title-fight against Mike Tyson, N.O.R.E. relives a humorous encounter involving Ja Rule and Lewis, during which the Murder Inc. rapper predicting that Lewis would lose to the Brownsville bred slugger. “I was shooting a video, ‘I’m Gonna Live My Life,’” N.O.R.E. says. “Little X is filming the video. Little X pulled me to the side and says, ‘You know who Lennox Lewis is?’ I wanted to chop Lil X in his fucking throat, ‘Of course I know who Lennox Lewis is!’ He’s like, ‘Lennox Lewis is gonna come by and come chill.’ So, we’re like, ‘Alright, no problem. Lennox Lewis comes by, I come give him a five, I’m totally forgetting I’m filming a video. And Ja Rule and them, they pulled up, and Ja Rule and them looked, and they said, ‘Man, Lennox.’ And Lennox, you can tell he was focused. And Ja just looked and he’s like, ‘Yeah bro, so you know you’re gonna lose against Tyson.’ And I could just look at Lennox face, he just zoned in on Ja Rule. He gave him the eyes of pain! He didn’t really wanna [react], we invited him, and I remember when he beat Tyson, I called Ja Rule, I said, ‘You fucked up, man!’”