Boxing promoter Butch Lewis (right) poses with Don King (left), Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks in 1985 in New York City to promote Holmes and Spinks’ fight later that year in Las Vegas. Photo by Paul Burnett/Associated Press
Butch Lewis (second from left) poses with boxing greats Muhammad Ali (left), Joe Frazier (second from right), and Michael Spinks (right) on the campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1999. Photo by Associated Press
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
For over 30 years, Butch Lewis was one of the best promoters in boxing. He passed away on July 23 of a massive heart attack at the age of 65 in his home in Bethany Beach, Del.
Lewis ran the streets of Philadelphia as a youngster and once worked as a used car salesman. Sales was his gift, and it did not take long before he ditched the used cars for boxers.
In the late 1970s through the 1980s, Lewis was one of the premier promoters in boxing, as he earned Michael Spinks a $13.5 million payday for what ended up being 91 seconds of work.
Spinks may have been knocked out in the first round by a young Mike Tyson, but without the shrewd business maneuvers by Lewis, Spinks would have seen a fraction of that payday for that fight.
Lewis was flashy and he was a big time talker, which allowed him to negotiate on the behalf of many big time fighters.
Born Ronald Everett Lewis in Woodbury, N.J., in 1946, he grew up in Philadelphia. He was a small time street hustler before going to work at his father’s used car dealership.
Lewis’ father was one of the original stockholders in a syndicate that backed Joe Frazier, which was Lewis’ foot in the door to boxing.
Lewis started to travel with Frazier, and he was able to sit in on meetings with Frazier and Muhammad Ali. He went on to be a co-promoter of Ali’s heavyweight championship fight with Richard Dunn in Munich in 1976.
After that fight Lewis began to work for promoter Bob Arum, who made him vice president of Top Rank.
While at Top Rank, Lewis signed and guided the careers of brothers Leon and Michael Spinks.
After Leon Spinks victory over Ali for the heavyweight title in 1978, Lewis left to rank to form Butch Lewis Productions. He would later branch out into entertainment.
Butch may be best known as a big talker and flashy dresser, but he will also be remembered as one of the hardest workers in boxing.
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