As I teased everyone with two weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting the legendary boxing manager Sampson Lewkowicz during a recent trip to Las Vegas to watch the incredible Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr superfight.
What I didn’t explain was just how incredible this guy is. If you asked me to name any boxing matchmaker other than Sampson Lewkowicz, I couldn’t do it – and I know the sport pretty well. But I can name Sampson, because he has a Midas touch for identifying talent, and he’s a genuinely fascinating guy in non-boxing contexts too.
But before we get into his back story, let me just add that a major political figure in Indonesia decided to gift Sampson with a golden sabre. A golden sabre! How cool is that?!
At age twenty, he emigrated from his native Uruguay to the United States in search of opportunities – knowing no English, with no family to support him, and little money in his pockets. He began working as a janitor for IBM, then went on to work at a mattress factory. While at the mattress factory, he was so efficient that union bosses told him to reduce his work rate or they would fire him. He quit.
Then, he went on to marry his wife Ketty Lewkowicz, and then rose up the ranks as an electronics salesman, later becoming manager of three New York City electronics stores and meeting such luminaries as Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Donald Trump, and President Jimmy Carter.
He also became such good friends with actress Ingrid Bergman that he was the first person she chose to confide in after she was diagnosed with cancer.
So he’s clearly an impressive guy, but how did he become the world’s greatest boxing matchmaker?
Well, after meeting World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman, he became involved with a boxing equipment maker and later a promotional company. He then struck out on his own as a manager and matchmaker, becoming the world’s greatest talent scout.
His major promotional partner during all of this? Golden Boy Promotions.
Here’s how good he is: there is a general consensus about the four greatest boxers in the world today. Two of them are American fighters who had brilliant amateur and Olympic backgrounds. The other two were unknown boxers from poor upbringings – one from the streets of Manila in the Philippines, the other an Argentinean ex-pat who was working as a professional boxer while an illegal immigrant in Spain – who were discovered and brought to the U.S. by Sampson Lewkowicz, and became some of the most renowned fighters in the world.
- Emanuel Dapidran “Manny” Pacquiao (husband of Jinkee Pacquiao)
- Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (who has often worked with translator Walter Krochmal)
And those names, my friends, are solid gold.