Number 180 – Alvin “Blue” Lewis


Alvin Lewis (tied for 176)
Detroit, Michigan, USA
6’3” / 205-225 lbs
30-6-0-0(19) from 06/21/1966 to 11/14/1973 (7y5m)

1-4-0-0(1) against the top ten
0-1-0-0(0) against linear champions
0-1-0-0(0) against hall-of-famers
No fights for the linear championship

Top ten opponents: W-KO-2 Hector Corletti, L-TKO-9, L-SD-10 Leotis Martin, L-DQ-7 Oscar Bonavena, L-TKO-11 Muhammad Ali

-1 total score (1 + -3+ 0 + 1)

Alvin Lewis is something of a mystery. There isn’t a lot of biographical information on the man known as Blue available on the interwebs.

What is known is that he was a big heavyweight for his era, standing 6’3″, and weighing around 220 in his prime. He had some boxing skills and some power, although he wasn’t outstanding in either category.  He was also known to be a popular sparring partner, having provided his services for Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, as well as several other elite heavyweights of the era.

Blue turned pro in June 1966, and won 14 straight bouts over the next year-and-a half. He was upset in December ’67 by 12-11 journeyman Bob Stallings, finding himself stopped in seven rounds.

Lewis would bounce back quickly, stopping a clubfighter in seven rounds, four months later, and then rematching Stallings a month after that. This time, Blue won a 10 round decision, and could move on with his career.

In July 1968, Lewis got his first crack at a real contender, and impressed everyone, blowing away Eduardo Corletti in two rounds. He’d win a third fight over Bob Stallings, then take on contender Leotis Martin that November. Lewis started out well, dropping the smaller man with the first punch thrown in the fight. But Martin was a smart and crafty boxer, and gradually worked his way back into the fight. He wore Lewis down, and put him on the canvas three times in the 9th to score the stoppage.

Lewis got a shot at immediate redemption, taking a rematch with Martin just three months later. This time, the fight went the distance, but once again, Blue couldn’t quite get past Martin, dropping a ten round split nod.

Lewis would spend the next couple years working his way back into contention. He won 7 straight, including a knockout over a faded Cleveland Williams. In October 1971, those wins led to a fight with contender Oscar Bonavena. Blue fought well, and held his own, but managed to lose by disqualification in the 7th round.

His performance was solid enough to merit a shot at his former sparring partner (and former champ) Muhammad Ali. The Greatest was on the comeback trail from his loss to Joe Frazier the previous year, and was doing something of a world tour, facing mostly elite opposition. He picked Blue as his dance partner for a fight in Ireland, of all places. The fight itself was the subject of a fun documentary, When Ali Came to Ireland. It also was relatively one sided. Blue came to fight, and occasionally disrupted Ali’s rhythm with sporadic charges. But Ali was in a different class. He knocked Lewis down hard at the end of the 5th round, and had the knockdown occurred with a bit more time in the round, he might have stopped him there. Lewis would endure for a while longer, but Ali gradually took him apart, and forced a referee stoppage in the eleventh.

The loss to Ali ended Blue’s time as a contender. He would score a win in his next fight, but then lose to fringe contender (and future actor) Jack O’Halloran in a bit of a surprise. Blue would follow it up with three more wins to close out 1973, but none were against serious contenders.

After that, as mentioned above, I don’t have much information on Lewis, except that he is considered a respected trainer these days in Detroit. And for a few years in the middle of the heavyweight golden age of the late 60s through early 70s, Al “Blue” Lewis was a significant name and occasional contender. He got to fight Ali, and was one half of a good documentary (albeit one that didn’t spend much time on him). If I discover more about the man as I write these, I will update it here.

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