Inducted on September 12, 1971
Banty Lewis the battling gamecock of Newark – mixed with the greatest of his era.
The following is from the Newark Evening News, September 23, 1954:
- Louis A. Novak, 62, of 124 Hobson Street in Newark, was killed today when his head was crushed by a rear wheel of a tractor-trailer at Frelinghuysen Avenue and Alpine Street. The driver of the truck… said he was unaware of the accident until someone shouted to him to stop. He had just started up his truck after being halted by a traffic light.
- Novak was known in the ring as Banty Lewis. He boxed professionally from about 1908 to 1920, his last opponent being Mickey Walker. He disliked the spotlight, but was a popular fighter who was one of the rare fighters who could knock out an opponent with one blow. In 1913 he went to France as one of a troop of fighters under the management of Al Lippe, others including Jeff Smith and Billy Papke. In France he defeated top French featherweights Auguste Grassi and Robert Dastillon in 15 and 20 rounds, although he had never fought more than four rounds before.
- By his performances and appearance Lewis captivated the Europeans. He had the shoulders of a middleweight and the waistline of a chorus girl, and long, blond hair and slim legs.
- In the United States, Banty fought mainly in New York and northern New Jersey. He was a top performer in such venues as the old Central Institute in Newark and Bill Brown’s 23rd Street Club in New York. He is said to have had 231 fights, scoring 108 knockouts, but these totals have not yet been verified.
- Novak worked at a regular job all his life. For many years he was employed in the stock room of Edison Company of West Orange, but was laid off several months ago. Since then he had looked for another job, but found none. He lived with his sister and his only hobbies were to read five newspapers daily and rewrite editorials as he thought they should have been written. He was very unassuming and, unlike most boxers, kept only one picture of himself.
- Boxing Record: click