Pride of West Kent Syrett is set to roar like a lion
12th March 2019
LEWIS SYRETT has been running up a hill ‘20 or 30 times’. He’s a little breathless but the 30-year-old boxer is busy staying in shape ahead of the biggest fight of his career.
He’s fighting at the Copperbox, the 2012 Olympics venue in East London, on Saturday March 23 on the undercard of a world flyweight title fight to be televised on Sky Sports.
His opponent, Serge Ambomo, represented Cameroon at the London Games and has a decent pro record of six wins and nine defeats.
“He looks a bit like Mr T, a short, stocky fella with a Mohican,” Lewis laughs. “It’s funny, I haven’t seen that Rocky film, I’ve only ever watched the new ones – and people say to me, how can you be a fighter and not have seen it?”
The middleweight, whose nickname in the ring is ‘Lionheart’ – he’s a big Millwall fan – has an unblemished record of five wins and two knockouts in the two years since he turned pro.
His next opponent will certainly be his stiffest test so far. “It’s a potential banana skin but I need to step up,” the southpaw said. “At 30 I don’t want to be fighting journeymen any more.”
He grew up in Kemsing and went to Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, then lived in Tonbridge before moving to Meopham last year.
He previously fought at York Hall in East London and is relishing the chance to show his skills at the Copperbox – and on TV for the first time.
'I like the dedication. It’s a hard game but I like challenging myself. This gives me something to live for'
“When I got the call it was music to my ears, I was over the moon,” he said. “I’ve been there to watch and I’ve always wanted to fight there, it’s got a great atmosphere.
The opportunity came out of the blue. “I didn’t expect it at all. I had to miss a mate’s stag do and a Millwall match, and I was thinking to myself ‘This is a bit much’.
“Then the very next morning I get a call asking me to be on the Matchroom undercard. I can’t wait, it’s a great opportunity.”
Matchroom, headed by Eddie Hearn, is arguably the biggest name in boxing in the UK and is handling the remarkable rise of Anthony Joshua.
“Wadi Camacho, who has the same manager as me, Steve Goodwin, is fighting Lawrence Okolie for the [British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight] title and they suggested a couple more fighters on the bill, so I’ve got my chance.”
Lewis turned pro after more than 50 fights at amateur level. He began at the Sevenoaks Amateur Boxing Club near Weald, under trainer Paul Lynch, and stayed there for 10 years.
“I started just before I turned 18, quite late really. A friend of mine didn’t want to go along on his own so I said I’d go with him. He gave it up after a couple of months but I fell in love with it.
“I like the dedication. It’s a hard game, like people say, but I like challenging myself. I used to play a lot of pub football but it wasn’t enough for me. This gives me something to live for.”
Now he trains at the Boxing Stables near Brands Hatch with trainer John Cole, having turned professional at the ripe old age of 27.
It came at the right time, after he had experienced what he reckons were a succession of poor decisions from referees.
“I used to get disheartened, you get some terrible robberies,” he said. “Coming from a small club, your face doesn’t fit against the bigger boys.
“My mate Darryll Williams said to me, ‘Why don’t you turn pro?’, and I thought, well if he thinks I can do it then I’ll give it a go.”
Lewis still works five or six days a week as a scaffolder, then goes to training afterwards, typically two hours a night. It’s a tough ask but it keeps his weight down and his fitness up.
So what makes him a fighter to watch? “I’m very awkward, I’m not sure why but everyone that watches me spar reckons I’ve got a weird style.
“Plus I’ve got a good engine and a good chin, and I just don’t stop coming.”
He’s confident his glove will be raised at the Copperbox and he will go on to punch above his weight. “I’ve achieved more than I ever expected, I never thought I’d be good enough to turn pro.
“Now I’d love to have a go at the Southern Area title, and see where it takes me.”