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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Lester Ellis
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FEATURE   Photo: Former World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Welterweight Champion Lester Ellis pictured with the great Sugar Ray Leonard.

Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.


The Master Blaster”, Lester Ellis, won no less than five World Championships in five different weight-classes, including the World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Welterweight title, during his incredible forty-nine fight professional career between 1983 and 2002.

Ellis was born in March of 1965 in Blackpool, England. The youngest of three sons to Sheila and Keith Ellis Sr., Lester migrated to Australia with his family when he was only three years old, making him a significant name in Australian boxing history rather than British.

Only two years after relocating to the Melbourne area of Victoria state, mother Sheila left the family home and her three sons to be looked after by Keith Sr. on his own. To make matters worse, she left for her husbands best friend and five-year-old Lester took this very hard, and developed into a somewhat troubled young man.

But at the age of twelve, inspired by the first Rocky movie, he joined the Glengala Boxing Club in West Sunshine, a suburb to Melbourne, where trainer Matthew Quin saw great potential in the young man and helped him deal with his demons through boxing.

As has been the case with so many, boxing likely saved Ellis from going down the wrong path:

I came from a commission area and a broken-up family. We had no money, we were doing it hard”, Ellis said in an interview a few years ago.

I was no good at school, I was pretty much illiterate. But through boxing I wanted to read about the world champions and how they were guided and got motivated, and what they did to get better, so I became a better reader.”

(...) I had a bit of hate there, I had desire. I wanted to get somewhere...”

In six years as an amateur boxer, Ellis fought fifty times and won forty-five bouts. He won four Australian national championships and six Victoria state championships, before he was deemed ready to turn professional in April of 1983, only a month after his eighteenth birthday.

And there was not holding back at the start of his paid career. After two quick wins over Ben Lappori (5-6-3) and Roy Hughes (26-34-7), who Ellis knocked out in three and two rounds, he beat former two-weight Australian Champion Brian Roberts (35-15-6) by technical decision in his third outing.

Next was another ex Australian titlist in Gary Williams (25-5), who Ellis demolished in two. Kirk Blair (31-20-3) was stopped in five, Jeff Smith (20-6) in eight, American import Richard Fowler (11-6) in ten, while Welshman Steve Sims (12-9-1) and Japans Kiyoshi Sasaki (12-2-1) managed to take Ellis the full distance before losing on points.

On November 16, 1984 Ellis won the Commonwealth Super Featherweight title when he dethroned reigning champion John Sichula (17-0-1) from Zambia by split decision at Festival Hall in Melbourne. In less than nineteen months he had compiled an outstanding 14-0 (10) record, won his first title, and broke into the world rankings.

It is safe to say that his handlers had great confidence in Ellis, still only nineteen years old, because when the opportunity came to bring IBF World Super Featherweight Champion Hwan-Kil Yuh (25-1-3) from South Korea to Melbourne for a defense, they jumped at it.

On February 15, 1985, back at Festival Hall, Ellis fought way beyond his years and came out on top after fifteen hard rounds to become one of the sports youngest world champions in history by split decision. It was truly an amazing achievement, and not one expected by someone still a teenager.

Two months later Ellis retained his world title when he stopped Filipino Rod Sequenan (43-9-3) in the thirteenth stanza. It had been a competitive and grueling encounter fought at close quarters, until Ellis staggered Sequenan with a left hand and pummeled him until he finally went down for the full count just as the bell rang.

Taking into account the intensity of that fight, perhaps it was too early to return for his second defense only two-and-a-half months on, because Ellis lost his first world title the following July when fellow British-born Australian, ex training partner turned Melbourne rival, Barry Michael (44-8-3) was awarded a unanimous decision.

It was a massive fight, another war at Festival Hall, with over six thousand screaming fans and plenty of local pride and bragging rights at stake besides the IBF world title, so it was a bitter pill to swallow for Ellis. He had looked up to Michael, ten years his senior, before their relationship turned sour in the build-up to their fight.

"I still say I went in with too much respect for Barry”, said Ellis in another interview. “I really believe that if I never knew Barry, if he was from another country and I had never seen him before, I would have fought a lot better. How can you fight your idol?"

But at 22 years of age he had plenty of time to get his career back on track. He rebounded with victories in two low-level fights, but there would be more agony before 1985 was over as former foe John Sichula (19-1-1) returned to Australia and got his revenge by stopping Ellis in four rounds of a scheduled ten on December 16.

It looked to be an uphill battle back to the top, but Ellis was prepared to pay his dues and take the long road. During the next six years he won fifteen of eighteen bouts, winning Australian national titles at Lightweight and Light Welterweight, as well as the Commonwealth Light Welterweight title.

In early 1993 he finally got his chance to become a world champion again when he was pitted against American veteran Rocky Berg (60-35-2) for the WBF World Welterweight title, left vacant by Roger Turner. Ellis was a heavy favorite going in, but Berg was expected to present more of a challenge than he did.

Headlining at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide, Ellis wasted little time and quickly took control of the fight in the first round, before getting rid of the out-gunned Berg already in round two. Almost eight years after losing his IBF belt to Barry Michael, Lester Ellis was once again champion of the world.

Looking for new challenges, Ellis decided to “fill in the blanks” and went after world titles in the weigh-classes between Super Featherweight and Welterweight. He lost a non title bout at Lightweight to former IBF World Featherweight ruler Calvin Grove (44-5) by split decision, so the first step of his mission was accomplished at Light Welter.

In December of 1994 he captured the IBO World Light Welterweight crown with a blistering first round knockout of Al Coquilla (22-8-3) from the Philippines, and added the IBO World Lightweight title three months later by out-scoring another Filipino, the defending champion Amando Cabato (44-23-8).

Incredibly he then went up three weights to win the vacant IBO World Super Welterweight title in July of 1994, scoring a unanimous decision over American Eric Alexander (10-5-1) to make him a five time, five division World Champion from Super Featherweight to Super Welterweight.

That would be his last significant success in the ring. In April of 1996 he lost a rematch to Calvin Grove (48-8), and retired. In July of 2002, thirty-seven years old, he made an ill-advised comeback at Super Middleweight, getting stopped in the third round to future world champion Anthony Mundine (13-1).

Two Australian titles, two Commonwealth titles, five world championships and a final record of 41-8 (28) in a career that lasted almost twenty years. Few boxers can brag to have accomplished even half of what Lester Ellis accomplished.

These days Ellis lives in Melbourne-suburb Taylor Hills with wife Sharron, and runs the Lester Ellis Fitness Academy. They have four sons, Lester Jr., Darcy, Dempsey and Jake. Jake followed in his fathers footsteps for a short while, and became a professional boxer, winning two fights in 2012-2013.

  Part 44: Patrick Vungbo
  Part 43: Patrick Washington
  Part 42: Ric Siodora
  Part 41: Guy Waters
  Part 40: Natascha Ragosina
  Part 39: Nicky Cook
  Part 38: Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym
  Part 37: Felix Camacho
  Part 36: Homer Gibbins
  Part 35: Joe Bugner
  Part 34: Myriam Lamare
  Part 33: Darrin Morris
  Part 32: Suwito Lagola
  Part 31: Aaron Zarate
  Part 30: Tommy Small
  Part 29: Matthew Charleston
  Part 28: Jane Couch
  Part 27: Fahlan Sakkreerin
  Part 26: Kenny Keene
  Part 25: Yvan Mendy
  Part 24: Ronnie Magramo
  Part 23: Randall Yonker
  Part 22: Holly Holm
  Part 21: Vinnie Curto
  Part 20: Robin Reid
  Part 19: Lionel Butler
  Part 18: Mads Larsen
  Part 17: Ken Sigurani
  Part 16: Orlando Fernandez
  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson

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