By Jackie Kallen
I have to admit that in a crazy way, I will miss Butch Lewis. I hadn’t seen him in several years, since he kind of dropped out of boxing (except for working with fringe heavyweight Faruq Saleem a few years ago). But once you met the guy–you never forgot him.
I remember the first time I met him. He was running around in a tuxedo with no shirt. I thought it was an unusual look, but I just figured Lewis was making a statement of some sort.
As I got to know him, I discovered a soft side that totally charmed me. We would sit and talk and it would slowly leak out that he was sponsoring this kid or that kid by paying for their college education. He sought no publicity for these things–he just did it.
Right before the Spinks/Tyson fight in Atlantic City in 1988, Butch was being hounded by everyone under the sun for fight tickets. It was nearly impossible to keep up with all the requests he got. As busy as he was, he made sure to get me six really good seats so I could bring Thomas Hearns and his wife and former Piston Bill Laimbeer and his wife along with my ex-husband. What a weekend that was!
The festivities surrounding the event were far more exciting than the fight itself. We had just gotten into our seats when the fighters entered the ring. After touching gloves, the fight was over in 91 seconds. We never complained, though, because there were so many parties to attend after the fight.
Butch bragged to me before the fight that he had assembled the most massive roster of A-listers ever assembled at a prize fight. It sure looked like that. A partial list of ringsiders included: Jesse Jackson, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Herschel Walker, Magic Johnson, Rob Lowe, Billy Crystal, and on and on.
If ever a man was in his glory–it was Butch Lewis on June 27, 1988. He had earned over $13 million for his fighter Michael Spinks, (which he later bragged to me amounted to over $140,000 per second.)
Boxing loves colorful characters like Butch Lewis. I had nothing but enjoyable experiences with him and I am sad to learn of his passing. He was only 65–four years younger than Muhammad Ali and fifteen years younger than Don King. R.I.P., Ronald “Butch” Lewis.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen