Advertisement: IBO Boxing

'A Good Life' – Hedgemon Lewis


He wore a white Bruno-Tyson T-shirt with a flip phone fastened to the belt loops in his jeans.

There was a boxing man’s aged wisdom in his eyes and physical signs of a career inside the ropes.

He leant against the strands of the ring, passing nuggets of information to a young hopeful inside.

You could tell he was an old fighter even though he wasn’t shouting about it and even though there were no crowds around him.

Hedgemon Lewis was training fighters at the now defunct Nevada Partners Gym in Las Vegas. It must have been more than 15 years ago.

Former boxer and referee Richard Steele used to own the place and he allowed Hedgemon and I time in his office for an interview.

Lewis’s story was unique, entwining celebrity, boxing and family. He was born in Alabama, moved to Detroit and then headed out west.

Hedge had this story about how he visited his local rec center to go swimming when he was a troublesome and bored boy. As kids do, he and friends ended up making mischief, toppling trash cans and so on.

Someone who worked there barked at them to go upstairs to the boxing club and talk to a man called Duke Ellis. He would help them let off steam.

“Duke Ellis was damn near 90 but he had trained Joe Louis,” recalled Lewis.

Hedgemon boxed in a tournament aged 12, weighing no more than 105lbs soaking wet, and as a decorated amateur he wound up losing in the Olympic trials to Charles Ellis, brother of former heavyweight Jimmy.

By now the talented Lewis was working with Luther Burgess, who had been trained by the legendary Eddie Futch. It got to the point where Luther thought his old coach should take a look at Hedgemon, so he went out to the West Coast.

Futch fell for the velvety-skilled Lewis and wanted to work with him on the condition that Lewis moved from Detroit but Hedge didn’t want to leave his mother.


By late 1967 or early in 1968, Futch told him, “If you can just stay in town you can make something of yourself.”

Eddie said he’d taken quite a few fighters out to the West Coast but none had stayed. Hedgemon eventually stayed and would end up calling Futch a father figure.

To make it work financially, Futch and Lewis built a consortium of investors and the likes of singer Robert Goulet, actor Ryan O’Neal and Billy Cosby joined forces.

It all started when O’Neal was having his hair cut by Hollywood barber Jay Sebring, who along with Sharon Tate would later be murdered by the Manson family.

“It was 1966, and one of his hair cutters was an ex-boxer, and he was trying to put together a corporation to manage this fighter out of Detroit,” O’Neal remembered to the Detroit Free Press back in 2016, while explaining how his ex-wife gave him the money to invest.

“We had this wonderful relationship,” he continued of his time with Lewis. “He grew up in the Brewster Projects. He had a rough early life. He was a black man and I was a white man. There were a lot of problems going on in those days, but not with us. … “We went around the world together.”

The team stayed in place from 1967 to 1978.

Through the years there were inevitably ups and downs, big fights with Ernie ‘Indian Red’ Lopez (l rsf 9, w pts 10 and l rsf 10), Carlos Palomino (d pts 10), Jose Napoles (l pts 15 and l rsf 9), Armando Muniz (l pts 10). Hedgemon lost world title fights to the great Napoles and excellent Brit John H Stracey in his final contest, stopped in the 10th round.

“What would I say if I saw Stracey again,” he asked me rhetorically when old and greying.  “Congratulations John, you won the fight. Let’s do a rematch.”

He retired with a 53-7-2 record. More a smooth boxer than ballistic puncher, there were 26 knockouts victories.

He’d told his mother he’d call it a day when he was 30 and he was that age when he fought John H.

“Rest in peace Hedgemon Lewis,” tweeted Michael Spinks this week. “Hedgequarters as we called him, was a good friend of mine. I will miss him. So sorry he had to leave.”

Patrick O’Neal, Ryan’s son, said on social media, “He was a tremendous boxer who my dad managed in the late 60’s and 70’s. He fought for the welterweight championship belt 2 or 3 times. Hard fought losses. One was a downright awful split decision. RIP Hedge.”

Lewis maintained he was robbed in the first Napoles fight.

By the time I met Hedgemon in around 2004, he’d been living in Las Vegas for 20 years and he later stayed in an assisted living home back in Detroit. He’d almost gone full circle. He would have gone back to Alabama last year for his induction into their Boxing Hall of Fame, but was too unwell to do so.

“I can’t complain,” he smiled that summer’s day in Vegas more than 15 years ago. “It’s been a good life.”

He had Covid-19 and died on March 31, aged 74.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by Thunderstruck on 04-07-2020

The boxing world takes another hit.RIP

Comment by Dasmius Shinobi on 04-07-2020

When this news reach me, again I was sad. Is killing our beloved boxers who are retire. Rest in Peace Champ Hedgemon Lewis, thank you for sacrificing for all of us in your fights. I am forever in gratitude. :sad2:

Comment by Verus on 04-04-2020

Hegemon fought the very best of his era and gave as good as he got. Thanks for the great fights. RIP

Comment by marvin douglas on 04-04-2020

R.I.P Champ

Comment by Corelone on 04-04-2020

Rest in peace champ. This thing is no joke. I watched those fights, Napoles ruled the age with an iron fist. Hedgemon went to war win or lose.

Top Headlines
Luis Ortiz: I Just Need a Name and Date - I'll Even Go Against Mike Tyson! May 30 Show in Santo Domingo Canceled By D.R. Government Jessie Vargas: Liam Smith Fight is One I Am Definitely Interested In Omar Rosario, P.R. Olympic Hopeful To Turn Pro, Signs With VanNewhouse Erik Morales Fires Back at Juan Manuel Marquez: You Didn't Want To Fight! Showtime Reveals June Schedule of Classic Fights Whyte-Povetkin, Taylor-Serrano on August 8 or 15, Fight Camp PPV Ramirez: We Might See Better Hooker Against Prograis Than When He Faced Me Porter: I Don't Know If Crawford Fight Makes Sense Right Now Saunders: I'm Very Confident I Would Stop Andrade Because Of His Style Fury Co-Trainer Andy Lee: Wilder Needs To Be More Aggressive In Trilogy IBF: As Of Now, Joseph Diaz Scheduled To Make Mandatory vs. Rakhimov Frank Warren Backs Charlie Edwards To Win Another World Title Mayweather Signs On For Celebrity Boxing Event - Will Not Fight Davison: You Have To Admire The Self-Belief of Deontay Wilder Joe Joyce's Manager Warns Whyte: Ngannou Can Box at a High Level! Not Pound for Pound...Champ for Champ 2020, Pt. 3 Abner Mares Splits With Garcia, Training For Comeback With Robles John Jackson Attempting To Get Out of Jail Due To COVID-19 Fear Wanderlei Silva: Mike Tyson Fight Would Do Big Business on PPV Hearn: There Is No DAZN Situation; Meeting Friday To Discuss Upcoming Schedule Top Rank Safety Protocol Clears Path For Boxing To Return To U.S. Jose Ramirez Preparing For Mid-July Return vs. Viktor Postol Josh Taylor Expects Mandatory, Would Rather Bypass For Big Fight Top Rank’s Vegas Shows To Have 5 Fights, All With No Media Nevada Commission Approves Top Rank Dates For June 9 & June 11 In Las Vegas Carlos Molina vs. Michi Munoz Now Pushed Back To June 6 Joshua-Pulev: Hearn Reveals Small Crowd Plan For Fall Event Josh Warrington Warns 'Gobshite' Shakur Stevenson: I Won't Wait! Javier Fortuna Extends Promotional Pact With Sampson Boxing Haney Hasn't Talked With Mayweather About Training Him Full-Time Holyfield: I Wanted To Bite Tyson Back, But They Always Catch The Second Person Fury: I Wouldn't Pay Wilder 10 Grand To Step Aside; Would Rather Give Him Good Hiding Again Roney Hines Vows To Be Patient For Big Fights, Not Looking To Rush Lee Eaton: Good, Competitive Fights Must Happen When Boxing Returns Roy Jones Says He's Willing To Fight Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield Groves Still Disagrees: I Never, Ever Needed Saving in First Froch Fight! Whyte vs. Ngannou: Hearn Says Really Good Chance It Could Happen Joseph Diaz's Plans: Beat Farmer Again, Then 'Huge' Fight With Mares Vitor Belfort on Training With Mike Tyson: Takes a lot of Courage To Return at 53
Latest Forum Threads