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World Sport

Lewis steps outside the ring

By Karie Atkinson, CNN

Lennox Lewis
Lewis: "My mission is complete."

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- After a 23-year career in boxing, heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has decided to pass on the torch to the next generation of heavyweights.

Dressed in a pristine business suit, and exuding characteristic serentiy and confidence, the 38-year-old officially announced his decision to retire to a press conference in London on Friday.

His last fight as a professional boxer was in June 2003 when he retained his heavyweight crown against Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko.

Asked why he had chosen now to retire, Lewis told CNN he hoped people would remember him as the "greatest boxer in his era who retired at the right time."

"You can't spend 110 percent on something if you don't have that same hunger and drive. I have achieved all my goals -- my mission is complete."

Lewis explained that he is stepping aside to let other heavyweight boxers accomplish their goals and because he wants to start a new chapter in his life.

"I don't want to be a boxer all my life," he announced.

As well as being boxing's dominant figure for the past decade, Lewis' gentlemanly conduct has earned him respect beyond his skills as a fighter.

He is also respected for his refusal to allow promoters to get in the way of the boxer; his admirers include boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Trail blazer

Adrian Ogun, Lennox's business manager, believes Lewis's determination both inside and outside the ring to overcome the politics of boxing have set him apart from other heavyweight champions.

"Lennox is a boxer who is classy and who does things his way," Ogun told CNN.

"He has blazed a trail where the boxer rather than the promoter is the most important thing in boxing promotion," he added.

Now Lewis intends to use his experience to help those hoping to emulate his achievements in a new role as a director with his management company Sports Entertainment & Media Group.

"Here I will help build up other athletes around the world and help them avoid the mistakes I made," Lewis declared.

"It is unique for a former heavyweight champion to be in a position where he is managing future heavyweight champions," Ogun told CNN. "Not even Don King can do that!" he added.

• See CNN's full interview with Lennox Lewis on World Sport, which airs on CNN International at 0930 GMT, 1230 GMT, 1430 GMT, and 2130 GMT daily (also 0030 GMT at weekends and daily in Asia.)


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