By Scoop Malinowski
STATUS: 1988 Olympic gold medallist and two-time Heavyweight Champion.
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
BORN ON: Sept. 2, 1965 IN: East London, England
NICKNAMES: Lennie The Lion, Lennox 'Lethal' Lewis, The Gentle Giant, Rough & Rugged, Cool & Deadly.
CHILDHOOD SPORTS HERO: Muhammad Ali.
HOBBIES-INTERESTS: Basketball, football, watching movies, playing chess, tennis, video games, ping pong, billiards.
CHILDHOOD DREAM: Fireman.
PREFIGHT FEELING: Very focused. You mustn't let your mind wander on to anything else when you're boxing. If you're not concentrating 100%, you're courting disaster. There's a man across the ring trying to take the top of your head off. The only fear I have is the fear of losing. I don't feel fear or pain or fear of my opponent, because I have prepared myself to deal with anything that happens in a fight. Boxing is the life I've chosen and the risk I've decided to take. People climb Everest and then suddenly five of them fall off the mountain and die. And people are asking, Why, why, why? Well, just because - because we're human beings, and we test ourselves with challenges.
FIRST JOB: Shoveling snow in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. I was an entrepreneur [smiles].
FIRST CAR: A big, old boat, I don't know what it was!
EARLY BOXING MEMORY: When I was a kid and I was running I would sometimes fantasize about boxing. But in an odd way, I was never Muhammad Ali. It was always me fighting his fights. On those runs I must have knocked out George Foreman and Joe Frazier a hundred times in my imagination. But it was always me doing it my way, never Ali doing it his.
FAVORITE MOVIES: Scarface, Raging Bull.
MUSICAL TASTES: Reggae, rap, Bob Marley, dance music.
FAVORITE MEAL: Caribbean, french fries and apple pie ala mode.
FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL: Wheaties or Raisin Bran.
FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR: Rum raisin or chocolate.
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: In Canada, when I was going for the 100-mile run and I'd seen her. There she was. She was beautiful and I waved to her. That was a Kodak moment [smiles].
MOST PAINFUL MOMENT: I'd have to sit down and really think about it, but I don't have too many.
FAVORITE HOLIDAY SPOT: Jamaica.
PEOPLE MOST ADMIRED: Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King
BIOFILE: BERNARD HOPKINS
By Scoop Malinowski
STATUS: WBC, WBA & IBF Middleweight champion.
CHILDHOOD HERO: Muhammad Ali. I met him in Ecuador when Don King brought him down for my fight with Segundo Mercardo. He still has the humor with him. I had goose bumps. I never thought I'd be next to guys like that. Me and his birthdays are a few days apart. We're both Capricorns.
NICKNAME: The Executioner.
EARLY BOXING MEMORY: Winning Pennsylvania Junior Olympics when I was nine. Won a trophy which had to be 2ft tall! When I won that I was the baby in the gym. We had guys like Robert Hines. I got my butt kicked 95% of the time in the gym by guys who were bigger and older than me. But I was too advanced for my level. I beat a guy named 'Bunchie' Williams, a good, good amateur who went 12-1 as a pro but then I think drugs got him. I still see him all the time. He says, 'You didn't really beat me that night, you had the politics with you.' But I knocked him down three times! There was no politics then. We joke. Good connection there. He says Roy Jones is afraid of me.
CHILDHOOD DREAM: To always be a fighter. Always wanted to be champion. Started getting my reputation as a fighter in the streets. I used my talent the wrong way at first.
PRE-FIGHT FEELING: I think about all the hard training. Nine weeks. Concentrate on what I've been doing to get ready for the fight. I look at him. I look for fear. See if he's looking the other way or if he's looking down. Are his lips moving or is his ear twitching? One thing that helped me in my life is that I'd seen intimidation growing up. You cannot intimidate Bernard Hopkins.
FAVORITE MOVIES: Westerns, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies, Dirty Harry, Roman gladiator movies, Hercules movies, science fiction.
MUSICAL TASTES: Jazz, Miles Davis, soul music, Sade - me and my wife like her. The O'Jays, Patti LaBelle, soft music, some rap. If there's a good message in there.
FIRST JOB: Cook at Penn Tower Hotel in Philadelphia. In 1988 when I got out of the penitentiary. I was a great worker. When I first started boxing pro, the manager used to read about me in the paper.
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: I don't know. I got so many great moments, man. I can't tell you the greatest - you don't got enough tape, man. Everything's been a great sports moment for me.
MOST PAINFUL MOMENT: Can't answer that. Plead the Fifth, man [smiles].
WORST INJURY: When I got stabbed in '79 going to the movies with a female (age 13). On the subway. (Suffered) a collapsed lung, a scar above the heart. I was in the hospital for six months.
FAVORITE MEAL: Chicken or baked fish, pasta, linguini. But when you're a boxer you can't have a favorite meal. You gotta live healthy.
FUNNY BOXING MEMORY: Nothing funny in this business, man. Know what I mean?
PEOPLE MOST ADMIRED: People who overcome adversity. George Foreman, Tyson, Iran Barkley, people who you know where they came from. Anybody that comes from the inner-city and rises from that situation. James Toney. I could go on and on. Anybody that comes from adversity. I'll read it and know it's true. Because it's so easy to lay down. Lay down and say, I'm gonna rob a bank. That's an easy cop-out. But to say, I'm not gonna be like that...it takes a lot to do that when you have nothing in the refrigerator. It takes a lot. That's adversity. It's so easy to take the easy way out. It's so easy to lay down. It's so hard to get up.
BIOFILE: EVANDER HOLYFIELD
By Scoop Malinowski
STATUS: Four-time heavyweight champ.
CHILDHOOD HERO: Martin Luther King. He was a great man, a Christian man. Good for the people. He tried to take the people to the Promised Land.
NICKNAMES: The Real Deal, Warrior, Commander Vander, Chubby (as a kid).
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: Bowling, helping people, listening to music, all sports.
EARLY BOXING MEMORY: Well, I started at the Boys Club, eight-years old. My first fight, I became the Boys Club champion. I fought a guy by the name of Premium Raytcher. I hit him one punch (a right cross), he started crying and they stopped the fight [smiles].
PRE-FIGHT FEELING: I feel a strangeness. Kind of nervous. Always visualize a lot before you get there that night. (Once in the ring) I look at my opponent...for weakness. Right in his eyes to see if he's confident or not. And to let him know he's in trouble [smiles].
FAVORITE MOVIES: The Ten Commandments, Rocky III.
MUSICAL TASTES: Gospel, love ballads, and a little rap.
FIRST JOB(S): Vendor at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. I was also a lifeguard. And I pumped gas at the airport.
FIRST CAR: 1973 Pontiac LeMans.
LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Perfect attendance in high school.
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: Making the 1984 U.S. Olympic boxing team. Being a representative of the United States. I was doing it for more than myself. I got to represent my country. To do it for all the people in the U.S.
CHILDHOOD DREAM(S): To be a fireman, football player or boxer.
PEOPLE MOST ADMIRED: People the best at what they do. Being the best, you get a chance to energize people, touch people's lives. So that if they find something that they can do real well, and they put the time in to develop it, it will bring them to success. Boxing is what I do best. I find myself surrounded by people who are good in other things too. They'll allow you not to be envious of somebody. Hey, I got something I do well, too. You spend all your time writing. I spend all my time training. So I can respect you and know why you're good. And not be envious of you because you write better than me and you put words together better. Everybody should have something to hang their hat on. And that allows you to have that joy and love for everybody. What you do best can bring you joy at any time.
FAVORITE MEAL: Black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, yams and banana pudding.
FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL: Tony the Tiger [smiles].
FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR(S): Neopolitan. I like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.
FAVORITE BOXERS TO WATCH: Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather.
TOUGHEST OPPONENT: My first fight with Bowe was the toughest.
FAVORITE FIGHT: Leonard-Hearns I.
STRATEGY TO DEFEAT MIKE TYSON: Tyson might frighten you. But he doesn't scare me. This is my game, my trade. I've been everywhere he has, except prison. You can't just outbox him. You have got to be prepared to fight. The point is, to beat a guy like that, you've got to fight him. To get his respect. And then box him. If he puts you in a corner, you have to fight. If you have space, then you box. You have to do both. And if a guy can't fight, he's not going to win. We all know what fear is. And Tyson knows I've never been afraid of him. He knows I've been through a lot of adversity, same as him. But all big punchers are affected when they get hit. They're used to doing the hitting. And I don't think Tyson's the sort of guy to get up when he goes down.
BIOFILE: WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
By Scoop Malinowski
STATUS: WBO Heavyweight Champion
HT: 6-5 WT: 238
BORN ON: March 25, 1976 IN: Kiev, Ukraine
CHILDHOOD HEROES: "I had very many heroes. Bruce Lee, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, my brother (Vitaliy), all the best boxers, so many people. Max Schmeling. He's my idol. He's 96 now and still very strong. He has a great personality. He was a successful boxer and businessman. I met him three years ago with my brother and his mind is still sharp. We talked a long time with him. He was 93 then and remembers everything. And speaks clearly, not like Ali. Max Schmeling is a great example that a boxer should get out of the game with their health. Boxing can be a brutal sport."
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: "I like my doctorate work. Computer, surfing the Internet. I like to wakeboard, snowboard...it's so fun. I have a helicopter pilot's license. Languages...I'm from Ukraine. I now live in Hamburg, Germany. I speak very good German. My English is not so good now but I know I must learn how and I hope soon I can do much better."
CHILDHOOD DREAM: "I dreamed about everything as a boy...military man, doctor, spaceman. But not boxing."
EARLY BOXING MEMORY: "We drove away to a tournament in Kazakhstan (age 14). About 40 boxers were there. I wait for my first fight. I wait, wait. I wonder, what happened? Where's my opponent? (Tournament official) says, 'You win. You don't have an opponent. Only you here in heavyweight division.' My first championship and I don't have an opponent [smiles]. After that, my first amateur fight, I lost (on points). And after my first fight, I win everything that I can."
FAVORITE MEAL: "I like desserts. Every kind of dessert [smiles]. I like good food...Italian, Chinese, Japanese, French."
FAVORITE BREAKFAST: "Cottage cheese and strawberries."
FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR: "Vanilla."
FUNNY BOXING MEMORY: "In Germany, we have two round card girls per fight. Before one of my fights, one of the round card girls started talking to me...'I love you, I'm really a big fan.' A beautiful girl. But she was a little bit too forward. And she said, 'I will give you the keys to my house when I come into the ring between rounds.' I thought she was joking. But I was scared she would really do it. But I scored a knockout in round one and I never saw her again [laughs]."
PREFIGHT FEELING: "Concentrating and calming down. Caaaaaalm. I think about my fight. And the very many people looking at my fight. I've been waiting for this moment. And I know only one can leave the ring as the champion. And I want to be the champion."
FAVORITE BOXERS TO WATCH: "All boxers. From every boxer, one can take the best from him. Having the best style needs the best styles to learn from."
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: "Olympic Games as an amateur. The Olympic Games I had a dream to go as a child. Then I have gold medal around my neck. After three days, I got home (to Ukraine). Then I see the interest from the people...the parades for me, attention from TV. And winning the WBO title from Chris Byrd."
MOST PAINFUL MOMENT: "My fight with (Ross) Purrity. I lost to myself (TKO 11 in '98). I win all rounds. And after round nine, I'm tired. No stamina. I learned not to do too much hard punching. I was too young for that fight, didn't have enough experience. It was an important and big experience for me."
FAVORITE MOVIES: "I like action movies...Matrix. The Mummy. Titanic is not so bad. Rocky's really interesting. Terminator. Running Man."
MUSICAL TASTES: "Classical, Mozart, Beethoven, jazz, pop, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins."
FAVORITE ATHLETES TO WATCH: "Difficult question. A part of Ali, a part of Holyfield, a part of Tyson. (Formula 1 racer) Michael Schumacher. Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Marat Safin. Anna Kournikova [smiles]."
FIRST JOB: "I am a school teacher and I teach biology and physical culture. But I have too much work in boxing now."
PEOPLE MOST ADMIRED: "People who have good character, strong character. A will. And a wish."
BIOFILE: VITALIY KLITSCHKO
By Scoop Malinowski
STATUS: Heavyweight Contender
HT: 6-8 WT: 246
BORN ON: July 19, 1971 IN: Kiev, Ukraine
CHILDHOOD HERO: "Muhammad Ali - the best boxer, all times."
NICKNAME: Iron Fist.
CHILDHOOD DREAM: "Spaceman or astronaut or do karate like Bruce Lee [smiles]."
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: "Wakeboarding, jet skiing, scuba diving, table tennis, study, training."
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: "It is coming next year...in the year 2001 when I box Mike Tyson [smiles]."
MOST PAINFUL MOMENT: "None of them. (The most difficult part of boxing is the) preparation, the training. It's a long time, always the same every day. No changes. How do you say it...boring. And I have a lot of easy fights."
FUNNY MEMORY: "Five years ago in England. It was an amateur fight. After a heavy knockout, the opponent came back to me and told me, 'I will come back. Then I will show you how good I really am.' It was a very strong, heavy knockout. He was laying down for a long time. A strong hit. I wondered, next time I have to hit him harder? Is my arm too light [laughs]?"
FAVORITE MOVIES: "Rocky - very nice movie. Excellent. Many movies. Discovery Channel - very interesting to me."
MUSICAL TASTES: "Old music, classical, jazz, pop. Big fan of Cher, The Beatles and Eagles. My favorite song is 'Hotel California.'"
FAVORITE MEAL: "Italian."
FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL: "Not cereals, more yogurt and fruit."
FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR: "Cranberry."
FAVORITE ATHLETES: "Dynamo Kiev soccer team. Women's gymnastics - so agile, they look so beautiful to me. Andrei Medvedev and Nicolas Kiefer (tennis)."
WORST INJURY: "Broken right hand in the semifinal at Russian national amateur championships ('94). Still I won the match but couldn't fight in the final." [His amateur record was 195 wins in 210 bouts.]
PREFIGHT FEELING: "Nothing really special. Dress and concentrate on the fight. (Upon entering ring) I'm watching the opponent...without sending signals. In the eyes of someone you can see the mirror of the inside...how he's concentrated, how willing to fight he is, if he's strong or not, if he's nervous or whatever. I'm reading them."
FUTURE AMBITION: "Together with my brother (Wladimir) to have every heavyweight championship belt in the world, in the family. We promised our mother (Nadia) that we will never ever fight against each other. We never have fought or sparred. It's the closest a brother relationship can be."