Lewis was no hot dog

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Lennox Lewis, who heads the International Boxing Hall of Fame's class of 2009, still owes me.

In early 1985, six months after losing the super heavyweight quarter-final to Tyrell Biggs at the Los Angeles Olympics, Lewis and the rest of Canada's national team spent a long weekend in Edmonton, fighting exhibitions against top-rated Americans.

There was no super heavyweight on the U.S. squad, however, so Lewis spent most of the tournament at Northlands AgriCom lounging around the press area, trying not to look too bored. He had a lot of time on his hands, but what he didn't have was money. And he was constantly hungry.

En route to the concession stand on the first afternoon of the competition, I offhandedly asked the big guy if he wanted anything.

"Two hot dogs, please," he politely responded.

That's all it took. For the rest of the weekend, every time Lewis spied me sneaking off for a snack, the future three-time heavyweight champion of the world repeated his food order -- and apologized for not having the cash to cover it. "Catch you next time," he said.

Now when it comes to noshing hot dogs, I'm not shy about showing off my world-class talent. But Lewis was able to match me, chomp for chomp.

If he'd never gone on to a Hall of Fame career in the ring, my guess is that he could've easily eclipsed Joey (Jaws) Chestnut as Major League Eating's superstar of tube steaks -- and today I might justifiably be taking credit for steering his future on the right course. But that's another story.

Lewis, who was born in England and moved to Kingston, Ont., as a youth, went on to KO Riddick Bowe of the U.S. to win Olympic gold for Canada in 1988.

Two years later he captured the British and European heavyweight titles, then added the Commonwealth crown in the spring of 1992. Later that year he KO'd Toronto's Donovan (Razor) Ruddock to become the No. 1-ranked contender for Bowe's WBC world championship.

Bowe gave up the WBC belt rather than defend it against his old Olympic rival, setting in motion a series of fights that eventually established Lewis as the undisputed world champ -- and the best of his generation.

He retired in 2003 with a record of 41-2-1 (32 KOs) after avenging his only two losses (to Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall) and beating Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko.

When he's inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame at Canastota, N.Y., in June, it's a safe bet Lewis will recall those rematch victories over Rahman and McCall as two of the most satisfying moments of his brilliant career. But he'll no doubt also express regret that his shocking loss to McCall in their first fight wiped out a showdown with Bowe that had been scheduled for March 1995.

Sadly, I doubt the champ will recall that he still owes me about $22 (plus interest) for the hot dogs he wolfed down at Northlands AgriCom all those years ago.

QUICK JABS: Lewis won't be the only ex-pat Canadian heading into the Hall of Fame this summer. Joining him posthumously will be "Mysterious" Billy Smith, a native of Little River, N.S., who became the first universally recognized world welterweight champ when he KO'd Australia's Tom Williams in 1893. Smith, who held the title for two years, died in his saloon in Portland, Ore., in 1937 ... Ex-bantamweight champ Orlando Canizales (U.S.), former junior lightweight titleist Brian Mitchell (South Africa) and longtime HBO commentator Larry Merchant are also among this year's inductees.


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