Lester Ellis is one of Australia’s most accomplished fighters. Winning titles across five weight classes, Ellis’ notable career spanned 49 fights and close to 20 years in the ring.
Now retired and residing happily in the Victoria region of Australia, Ellis recalled his early days in boxing and motivations for taking up the noble art.
“I was a kid when Rocky came out, the movie, and my friends and I skipped school and took a bus into the city to watch it at the movie theatre,” Ellis, now 55, told Boxing Social. “That’s when I become hooked on boxing. From the moment I watched it, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
“I started going to the gym then and training. I took to boxing quite quickly and ensued into the amateurs. I remember doing a lot of sparring and, even as a kid, I was mixing it with the professionals. I feel that experience helped me gain success not just as an amateur, but as a pro.
“I won four Australian titles as an amateur and then turned professional. I felt I’d done everything I could do as an amateur and the experience was there so I turned pro.”
Ellis’ rise to the top was rapid, with the Blackpool-born super-featherweight clinching the IBF 130lbs title in February 1985 against Hwan Kil Yuh [W15], in just his 15th career outing at the tender age of 19.
“I got offered the fight and was like, ‘Yeah, why not’. I’d been doing this all my life and I believed that I could win the fight so I went for it,” he said. “Becoming world champion is like no feeling you can describe. It is a crazy emotion, especially feeling that at such a young age. It was a day I will never forget and one that I will cherish forever.”
Ellis (41-8, 28 KOs) went on to win multiple Australian and Commonwealth titles, and belts across five divisions including a trio of IBO crowns in three different weight classes, back-to-back. The ‘Master Blaster’ reflected on how this improbable feat transpired in the space of eight months.
“It was crazy as I was building back up to fight for the world title and I got offered the IBO super-lightweight title so I took it and won that [Al Coquilla, WKO1],” said Ellis. “Then I received an offer to fight for the lightweight title so I dropped down to fight for that and won [Amada Cabato, W12].
“I then got the offer to move to 154lbs and compete for the world title at that weight so I did [Eric Alexander W12]. It was hard moving up as the strength difference was crazy, but I used my experience to grind out a win [for] world titles in three weights in three fights. That is something I’m very proud of.
“I never really thought too much of it at the time. It was just a natural progression after fights. I’d fought at such a high level for a long time, I just took every fight as it came and prepared for them the best way I could.”
The latter days of Ellis’ career saw him clash with fellow Australian Anthony Mundine [LTKO3 in July 2002] and encourage his sons’ development into boxing.
“When I fought Mundine it was late in my career but I never felt outclassed,” he said. “I just felt as if he was too big for me and that was the reasoning behind me losing the fight. I had slowed a little, but he was big and strong and that was the difference in that fight.
“I’m glad the Ellis boxing legacy has continued. My sons run a boxing and fitness set-up in Melbourne, which caters to both fitness clientele and professional boxers. They also promote events and have promoted some great fights that are remembered fondly in Australia over the years.
“I’m delighted the family business is still flourishing and boxing will be in the Ellis family for years to come!”