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Howell Lewis: Training the next generation of boxers

For 32 years, the Lewis Boxing Gym has stood in Springfield.

It has changed locations within the city, but the heart and soul of the Commercial Street gym, Howell Lewis, has always been present. The gym, which is open 2 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, operates primarily through word of mouth.

IMAG0883Lewis started boxing at 10. He fought as an amateur until he turned 18 and then went pro. He retired as a pro boxer at 40. Howell also kickboxed with the St. Louis Whirlwind.

Did you receive any titles?

“No, no,” he says. “I fought more outside of our country more than I fought in it.  I fought in Amsterdam, Denmark, Italy, Spain.”

Though he has a record of 62-2 amateur fights and 52-2 pro fights, Howell never won any champion titles, partly because boxing is a lot about money and the ability to draw a crowd. Being able to sell yourself is important within the professional boxing world, Lewis says.

Were there any fights that where specifically memorable for you?

“I would say in Madison Square Garden,” Lewis says. “That was probably one of my biggest fights.” He fought Jameson Robertson in 10 rounds with a split-decision loss — one of his few losses on the pro circuit.

Tell us a little about your students, now and in the past.

Lewis Boxing Gym competes in amateur and pro fights. Currently, the gym has one pro fighter;  Lewis has had 10 pro fighters come through his gym over the years. “They have been with me for a long time, but they retired,” he said. “I got one left. But mostly, I am trying to bring up these 16-year-olds.”

Howell enjoys teaching boxing and likes to help kids who are interested in the sport. He is strict about their grades and will not let them practice if they are getting anything below a C in any of their classes. Some students also use the gym as a place to work out.

Who is your favorite fighter now?

Even with the controversy around Floyd Mayweather Jr., Lewis believes Mayweather is an excellent fighter.

Lewis knew, though, that the “fight of the century” between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was going to be a boring fight.

“You can’t take two pros that are great and make a great fight out of it,” he says. “They (are) too good.”

Generally, when fighters get to a certain level, it becomes more about the mechanics and technique, Lewis adds. It is uncommon for fights of that level to have those highlight moments that crowds love.

What do you think about MMA (mixed martial arts)?

“To me, that’s like alley fighting,” Howell says. He does not believe it is a sport as much as a mauling.  The use of elbows and knees can be dangerous, he adds. “There are some MMA fighters that make it look good, but those around here tap out the first round. You have to start somewhere, though.”

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One thought on “Howell Lewis: Training the next generation of boxers

  1. Curly Merly says:

    Howell is a great dude. I used to workout at his gym regularly several years ago, and have fond memories of the times..

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