Racist taunts drove Lewis Benson in boxing quest

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HE’S a king of the ring – the reigning Scottish and British champion whose majestic ­talent is set to wow crowds at the Glasgow games.

But boxing star Lewis Benson’s introduction to the sport shows necessity really is the mother of invention.

Lewis Benson with his sister Lana, left, and mother Angie. Picture: Toby Williams

Lewis Benson with his sister Lana, left, and mother Angie. Picture: Toby Williams

The only mixed-race child at Clermiston Primary School, Lewis was so tormented by ­racial taunts that mum Angie insisted headteachers take guidance from a racial equality board to stamp out the abuse. It was this childhood cruelty that drove the youngster to hit back at the bullies, first stepping on to the canvas aged 13 – a sporting stage he would go on to dominate with title after title.

A former electrician, Lewis, 22, is now tipped for Commonwealth glory having sealed his place in the Scotland team with a closed-doors contest against Glenrothes contender Connor Law.

The welterweight fighter said: “People told me I wouldn’t do anything with my life. But without the doubters I wouldn’t have any one to prove wrong, and without the racist abuse I never would have taken up boxing.

“Life growing up wasn’t easy for me. I was a very angry kid after taking a lot of racist abuse when I was younger. I was the only mixed-race boy at my school and I got picked on.

“When I started hitting back when I was about ten or 11 years old people didn’t like it, and after that people judged me and everyone forgot what happened before. People were always quick to judge. It wasn’t a great time for me but I found boxing and that changed my life. I always say boxing saved me. It’s my life and it always will be.”

By the time he reached high school, mum Angie, 49, said Lewis had decided he “wouldn’t be a punchbag” any longer.

She said: “If someone called him a racist name, teachers would tell him he was just having a bad day. He wasn’t going to take it anymore”

Shortly after joining Royal High School, Lewis began training at Meadowbank Amateur Boxing Club. To hone his footwork, sister Lana, a professional dancer, taught him some dancefloor 
moves.

When Lewis celebrated victory over his Glenrothes rival in the Scottish Championship final at the end of March, he ­believed his Games qualification had been assured.

But with Law still technically above him in ranking ­system, he had to win the box-off.

Lewis, whose Commonwealth title bid is ­sponsored by Watermans, now trains at Lochend ­Boxing Club under Eric Brown.