The Harder They Fall...Terry Lewis
Standing at 6'6" and weighing in usually over 230 lbs., Terry Lewis was indeed an imposing figure in the ring. According to a thumbnail bio in The Ring (May 1958), this Sioux City, Iowa native was an "outstanding" college football player and was projected as sure to be a "big hit."
As things played out, he was just another of the "Great White Hypes" who populated the heavyweight ranks in the late 50s-early 60s and joining ranks of LaMar Clark, Wayne Womochil, and Harley Breshears...big, slow-footed white guys who had a reputed "punch" along with a confirmed glass jaw.
No worse (and perhaps a tad better than the above mentioned), Lewis ran off a string of seventeen knockouts/stoppages over a two year period when he launched his career in early 1957. Of course, it should be mentioned that these wins came at the expense of your typical stiffs.
Typically, Terry had a forty to fifty pound weight advantage (plus height and reach) over his opponents. So there weren't too many challenges disposing of the likes of Wayne Womochil, Don Jasper, Dave Roy, Gene White, and Ralph "KO" Hooker.
Only twice did Terry face fighters who outweighed him. In his pro debut, he squared off against against Bruce Olson who moved the scales to 262 lbs...twenty-two more pounds of beef than Terry was sporting. A year later, the redoubtable Eduardo Romero out-tallied him 251 to 233.
Still when the "moment of truth" arrived for Terry in Spokane, Washington on May 2, 1959, it was "little" Earl Atley (soon to rated in this thread) who burst Terry's balloon. Terry's weight advantage of forty-seven lbs. was a little consequence. Atlely, who went on to be a punching bag and red meat for the likes of Mike DeJohn, Tom McNeeley, and Pat McMurtry, dropped the big guy three times in the first round for an ultimate countout win.
Terry's manager, Tom O'Loughlin, attempted to restore the big fella's confidence by setting up easy bouts with Sandy Assouna, Roger Balliett, and Emil Brtko. Lewis obliged by scoring early wins.
This led to the ultimate reality check...a ten rounder against Kirk Barrow for the Pacific Northwest Heavyweight crown. At best, Kirk was a light-hitting, beefed up light heavy, who gave up more than fifty lbs. to Lewis.
Nevertheless, none of this stopped Kirk from decking Lewis five times in the fourth round of their October 17, 1960 match for a KO win in that frame.
Pure speculation on my part here. One could surmise that Lewis lost his "taste" for the ring at this juncture. Before stepping into the ring with Barrow, he was inactive for more than a year. Wisely, after being pounded for four rounds by Kirk, Terry called it a career, finishing with a rather deceptive record of 20 wins (19 via early stoppage) against two fights lost...both by knockout.
Fighters like Lewis, along with Bowie Adams later on (make your own minds up about Gerry Cooney...I'm not walking into that debate), have always interested me. Big, slow, white guys with a reputed punch (based upon wins over "red meat" and guys way past their prime) who never passed when they were tested.
Since this thread is all about the "also rans" who gave the sport some "spice", I really don't mean to disparage guys like Lewis and Adams. I just want to put them into perspective.
As the racial complexion was changing (particularly with the heavyweights) in boxing, these guys got attention and ink far beyond their actual abilities. Nevertheless, they were an integral part of the sport's flavor in the post-Marciano era.
I plan to weave Lewis (along with LeMar Clark, George Logan, and the rest of the late 50s-early 60s White Hopes) into a subthread in my "Partital Eclipse of the Sonny" uni.