Boxing has produced some famous fighting Leonards over the years and ahead of Lenny Daws’ challenge for the European Super-Lightweight title against Anthony Yigit this Saturday night at the Westcroft Sports Centre, Carshalton, here are some more famous Lennys in the fight game:
One of the greats of British boxing and sometimes the forgotten man, the Cornish fighter was the poster boy of boxing in the 1920s and 30s who captured the nation with his prowess. Harvey held an incredible three British titles at different weights within the same year: middleweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight. A feat that will never be repeated. A record 90,000 people packed into White City in 1934 to watch his showdown with Jock McCoy. Daws said, “Boxing in those days was incredibly hard. Len didn’t get his first British title shot until his seventy-fourth fight and six years after he turned professional, absolutely staggering. Could you imagine that in British boxing now? Some fighters are fighting for a British title in their sixth, seventh or eighth fight.”
Sugar Ray Leonard
One of the legendary sporting icons of the 20th century, Leonard was blessed with blinding speed, natural talent, charisma, tremendous power and a million dollar smile. The Olympic Gold Medalist went on to win an unprecedented five world titles in five different weight classes. He defeated some of the finest fighters of the modern era, including Wilfred Benitez, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Robert “Hands of Stone” Duran and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler in a stunning 20-year career.
Lenny said, “You could never describe my style as sweet so I wouldn’t have dared to use ‘Sugar’ in my name, ‘lumps’ would have been the closest I could have got! There are only two Sugars in the boxing world Ray Robinson and Ray Leonard and they’re immortal.”
Q: Who is Benjamin Leiner better know as? He was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants and grew up in New York’s Greenwich Village. Possessing superb boxing skills and potent punching power, he turned pro in 1911 at just 15. He lost his first fight but, arguably, went on to become the greatest lightweights of all time. In an incredible career spanning over 20 years and over 200 fights, he held the lightweight title for six years and was involved in legendary battles against Johnny Dundee, Johnny Kilbane, Freddie Welsh and Jack Britton. Also known as ‘The Ghetto Wizard”.
A: Benny Leonard
Although he wasn’t born a Leonard, the British heavyweight great Lennox Lewis was sometimes known affectionately as Lenny “The Lion”. And the German meaning for Lenny is “Bold or Brave Lion”. The 1988 Olympic Super-Heavyweight Champion won the British, Commonwealth and European titles before being crowned WBC World Champion and going on to eventually unify the division. Daws trained at the old Lennox Lewis college in Hackney when he first turned professional, but never had the honour to meet him. Daws said, “Lewis was an incredible fighter and one I really admired for everything he achieved in an incredible career. I never got the chance to meet him, but would love to one day.”
“The Guv’nor” Lenny McLean
Not a practitioner of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, but once named “Britain’s Hardest Man”, a doorman, enforcer, debt-collector, writer and actor, Lenny McLean claimed to have had over 4,000 bare knuckle and unlicensed fights. His fights with rival Roy Shaw and Brian “ Mad Gypsy” Bradshaw are the stuff of underground legend. He later turned to an acting career and starred in the TV series The Knock before his iconic role as Barry the Baptist in the hit 90s gangster movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Daws said, “I’d have hated to come up against this Lenny in the ring or have him knocking at my door, he was a monster! I absolutely loved him in Lock, Stock, though, it is one of my favourite ever films.”
With a surname that means “eat bread” in Italian, this Lenny came from a family of bakers in the tough Corona district in Queens, New York. Mangiapane was a hard welterweight in the early 1960s who locals remember for his final fight with rival Bobby Bartels for the “welterweight championship of Queens”. After retirement he become an actor and featured in a number of hit TV shows Sopranos, Law and Order and Witness to the Mob.
Daws said, “Once I’m retired from boxing, who knows I may have a look at acting like of these Lennys have. I fancy myself in some old style cops and robbers TV shows like The Sweeney if they every bring it back! Right now though there’s plenty still in me and I want that European title before a dream world title shot.”
Leonard “Lenny The Lion’ Williams
Williams would have been more suited to Daws’ nickname “Lightning” after he once held the world record for the fastest knockout. The Maesteg warrior rose out of the famous colliery to challenge the great Howard Winstone for the British and European Featherweight titles in 1966. In a memorable battle at Port Talbot’s Afan Lido, Lenny lost in an eighth round stoppage in what was to be his final fight at just 22. He retired with a record of 33 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw and 25 knockouts and was the Welsh Champion.
If Lenny, a nickname of yesteryear, had been born today he would probably have been a more modern Leo, Leon or Leonardo Daws!
The working-class hero from Carshalton gets fanatical support from his loyal fans’ who have followed him every step of the way in his career from when he first won an ABA Championship in 2002 and love him for his down-to- earth and man-on-the-street attitude.
Daws sets a frightening and unrelenting fight pace that is a result of his natural fitness, hard-work in the gym, pure inner-determination and sheer heart and will that is displayed every time he steps in between the ropes.
In his 13 years’ as a professional, “Lightning” Lenny is a two-time European Union and British Champion and a former English and Southern Area Champion, in addition to fighting a who’s who of the 10-stone division.
Daws was “robbed” twice previously of the title against Ruben Nieto and Michele Di Rocco in Italy and he now aims to unleash vengeance on the dangerous Yigit.
He said, “I can’t wait for Saturday night and finally getting my hands on the European title. It’s been my dream to win it since I was kid. In this age of ‘plastic’ titles in boxing, to be called The Champion of Europe still means a hell of a lot.”
Remaining tickets, priced at £40 and £100 can be purchased through Ticketmaster online at: http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/35005172B612815C or by phone on 0844 844 0444
Doors will open at 5.30pm, first fight is at 6pm. The last entry time for the public is 8pm.
Members of the public who have purchased tickets that have the original event date of Saturday 17th December printed on them are advised that they will REMAIN VALID for the new date and can be handed in for entry to the venue on the day.