Jump to content

Forgotten Champions: Leslie Stewart

Recommended Posts

Known by his colorful nickname "Laventille Tiger", Stewart is only the second boxer from Trinidad and Tobago to win a world title. That alone makes him noteworthy enough to be included here. Stewart was a fine action fighter who could hit and was tough, but still his chin wasn't absolutely top notch-he got knocked out only by the hardest hitters however. At almost 6'2, he was a big light heavyweight and muscular too. At the end of his career, unable to make the weight any longer, he became a cruiserweight but was unsuccessful and he lost his prime rather early in general and retired with 12 losses, half of them by ko. He also won 31 fights, 20 by ko. Here is Leslie Stewart's story.


His nickname comes from his birthplace, Laventille, a ward of Trinidad and Tobago, where he was born on 21 March 1961, as Leslie Matthew Stewart. Standing 187 cm tall and with a reach of 188 cm (6 foot 1 and a half and 74 inches respectively), he started his pro career in January 1982, still aged 20. He first won 7 lesser fights, before winning his first title in the 8th-Latim American one, against Carlos Flores Burton, by KO 4. In December 1983, he decisioned Tom Collins, the hard-hitting fringe contender from UK. In November of 1984, he also won the Florida State lhw title on points against James Salerno and then also WBC Continental Americas cruiser title by TKO 8 against Mark Frazie. He was not a true cruiser back then however, so he vacated that title and instead won the light heavy version of it in his next fight. where he stopped Chris Wells by TKO 6. In August 1985, he had his first true success by decisioning the world class contender Lottie Mwale of Zambia to win the Commonwealth title, at home in Port of Spain. capital of T&T. He then fought Marvin Johnson for the vacant WBA title in his hometown of Indianapolis, 9 February 1986, but the fight was stopped after Stewart got badly cut, early in round 7. Thus, he lost by a TKO officially. He was behind on all scorecards, but got two rounds on one of them and had his moments before the stoppage. In his next fight, he beat Uriah Grant, future world cruiser champ, by UD 8 and then defended his Commonwealth title and won by a KO 5 against Gary Hubble, an easy opponent. In November of the same year, he added another bigger name to his list of conquests as he stopped the former WBA super middle champ Fulgencio Obelmejias by a TKO 4 to win the WBA Fedelatin title.


He was now ready for another showdown with Marvin Johnson, but this time at home in Port of Spain, 23 May 1987. This time, Stewart clearly dominated the older and faded Johnson, knocking him down in the first round and giving him a beating until he had to quit on his stool after 8 rounds. There could hardly have been a better way to become a champion, retiring a legend with thousands of home supporters cheering you on. But that moment of glory would turn out to be it for Stewart. He went to USA for his first defense against the relatively little known but very accomplished Virgil Hill and the fight commenced on 5 September at Trump Plaza Hotel. Stewart didn't look in his best shape and was stopped by TKO in 4 rounds after being down twice in the last round from big left hooks, Hill's specialty. Stewart later said he was pressured into taking that fight by his manager because it was aired by ABC and it did seem to come a little early, only 3 months after winning the title. After winning two more smaller fights, he then signed to fight against the new WBC champion, Donny "Golden Boy" Lalonde from Winnipeg, Canada. Lalonde was about the same height as Stewart and a deadly puncher. The fight took place in Port of Spain on 29 May 1988 and Stewart did well for the first couple rounds, but was stopped in the fifth by a barrage while against the ropes. In his next fight, he lost by a split decision to Bobby Czyz. Next year, he took on the young WBO champion Michael Moorer on 25 June in Atlantic City and after giving him a good and close fight, he got dropped twice in round 8 and stopped on his feet. That was pretty much it for Stewart's career. His last good win was against Drake Thadzi, a very solid fighter who would later upset James Toney and fight for the WBO title. Stewart managed to get the nod against him in Canada, where Thadzi was based, and won by UD 10. That was in February 1991 and in September he fought against Guy Waters for the Commonwealth title, in Melbourne, Australia. Stewart ended up losing by an uneven split decision. In his next fight in March 1992, he was surprisingly knocked out in 7 by Henry Maske, not a big puncher, fighting away in Germany. In May 1996 he had his first real cruiserweight fight and was knocked out in 6 by Fabrice Tiozzo. He retired in 2000, after losing two more fights on points, one to Dale Brown in a fight for the NABF title.


Leslie Stewart seems to be a case of a fighter that was mismanaged, not managed right in other words. It is certain that the loss to Hill put a dent in his career and hardly anyone had to defend their world title 3 months after winning it against such a dangerous opponent. Maybe he was capable of achieving more, maybe not. In any case-he was an exciting fighter at his best who was game and hit hard and was relentless in his attack. Today, he is all but a side note in the memory of most boxing historians, being mentioned among the fights of his more famous contemporaries. And that is why Leslie Stewart is a FORGOTTEN CHAMPION!



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...