Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.
Arnold Paul "Arnie" Boehm

Arnold Paul "Arnie" Boehm

Male 1933 - 2002  (69 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Arnold Paul "Arnie" Boehm 
    Born 13 Aug 1933  Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 9 Oct 2002  Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Hall of Fame - Waterloo Region Bef 2012  , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Name Arnie Boehm 
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-130133 
    Buried Memory Gardens Cemetery, Breslau, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID I130133  Generations
    Last Modified 1 Dec 2019 

    Father George Boehm,   b. 11 Sep 1880, Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Dec 1938, St. Clements, Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years) 
    Mother Mary Edwidge Deschenis,   b. 14 Oct 1897, Rimouski, Rimouski-Neigette, Quebec, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Jul 1989, St. Clements, Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years) 
    Family ID F57780  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Verna Veronica Stemmler,   b. 26 Oct 1932, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Aug 2001, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Last Modified 2 Dec 2019 
    Family ID F41693  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Arnie Boehm
    Arnie Boehm

  • Notes 
    • The man who started the World Boxing Council Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis on his career as a junior boxer in Kitchener, Arnold Boehm made a notable contribution to the youth of the Region of Waterloo through his involvement as a coach with the Waterloo Regional Police Association Boxing Club. Born in Wellesley Township in 1933, one of a family of eleven, he boxed as an amateur in his youth and then worked with Hook McComb in coaching the Police Club boxers.

      Boehm was a coach of the Canadian team at the World Junior Championships in the Dominican Republic in 1983 when Lewis won a World title. He helped coach the Canadian team at the Los Angeles Olympics and the North American team at the World Cup IV in Korea in 1985. He coached many more aspiring boxers in the community, including Chris Johnson, a bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

      In 1982 Boehm was named Boxing Ontario's "Coach of the Year," was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989 and received a Canada 125 Award in 1992. Boehm passed away on October 9, 2002.1a


      Waterloo Region Hall of Fame

      ___________________________________

      Arnie Boehm
      Canada's foremost amateur boxing trainer: Lennox Lewis's mentor and father figure

      Arnie Boehm was to Lennox Lewis what Cus D'Amato was to Mike Tyson: a boxing trainer who doubled as a father figure. Boehm not only discovered Lewis, but nurtured and mentored him through early adulthood, helping to transform him into an Olympic champion and future undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

      When Lewis first walked into the Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1977, Boehm saw a "big, awkward kid - really gangly. It was like he was tied together at the joints with string. His limbs were like spaghetti." Lewis was not adjusting to adolescence well: he was introverted and unconfident, boisterous and ill-disciplined. He had moved to Canada to join his mother, Violet, who had left England after his already married father had refused to wed her.

      In England Lewis had been raised by a great-aunt and teased for being illegitimate; now in Canada, his white classmates mocked this newly arrived black Englishman with a strange Cockney accent.

      Boehm, by trade a power-line man with a local hydroelectric company, had become involved in boxing training through Jerome "Hook" McComb, a police officer who had started the academy in the 1940s. Boehm had been an amateur pugilist as a youth, winning half of his 50 encounters, fighting at between light-welterweight and middleweight. "I was no great shakes as a boxer," he conceded. "But I've got the knack of coaching others."

      Lewis had gone to Waterloo Regional Boxing Association gym on the advice of his headmaster. Exasperated at his new pupil's violent temper, he suggested boxing as a means to channel his aggression. "I'd seen Lennox come in. He was with a friend of his called Andy," Boehm remembered of that day in 1977. "You could see that they were both a bit nervous, but at the same time there was an eagerness about them. They were clowning and joking, pushing each other, giggling and hee-heeing as boys will do in a boxing gym." Boehm soon recognised in Lewis determination and ambition. He was a very attentive pupil, and he was soon sparring and training with his coach on a daily basis.

      Just as Lewis then needed a father figure in his life, so Boehm, who had five grown-up children, warmed to the idea of taking up the paternal role. He not only bought Lewis his first boxing gear and fed him extra meals but, according to Joe Steeples, a biographer, "slipped him pocket money, taught him to drive, to fish, to make cement, to fix a fuse, explained the facts of life, remembered his birthdays, teased him if he got above himself, encouraged him about his schoolwork". Lewis's mother was not, to begin with, entirely happy about the relationship. "He was staying out late, and Arnie was driving him home. And I was kind of wondering about him because you hear stories about guys in gyms."

      In his first official amateur bout, Lewis knocked out his opponent in two rounds, and three years later, in October 1980, the 15-year-old overcame the 22-year-old former Canadian amateur middleweight champion Kingsley Hataway, and subsquently began seeking challengers in the senior open class.

      In form true to raw-eggs-for-breakfast Hollywood legend, Boehm subjected his protégé to all the elements in training sessions, hollering from the sidelines as Lewis paced his way through thick snow or driving rain. In preparation for the 1983 World Junior Championships, for instance, he took Lewis and the young boxer's girlfriend to Toronto's Centennial Stadium. Boehm said he would be ready only when he had run up and down the terraced-steps 25 times in a row in the freezing rain. Lewis did even better.

      "It was straight out of the Rocky movies. I could hear the music from the film going in my head, and it gave me a kind of power," remembers Lewis. "And when I'd done the 27 it was just like a still from the movie I was at the top of the stadium, arms aloft, and all three of us were cheering." Lewis went on to win the Championships in the Dominican Republic fought in temperatures of more than 32C (90F).

      In April 1984, shortly before the Los Angeles Olympics, Boehm took Lewis to visit Cus D'Amato and Mike Tyson at their house in upstate New York. The two boxers spent more than a week together, sparring, running up mountains, and doing push-ups and bench presses.
      Having won his first senior international bout in Sweden in January of that year, Lewis went into the Olympics in relative confidence. But he lost against the favourite Tyrrell Biggs. He made up for this four years later when he won for Canada its first boxing gold medal since 1932. When, after Seoul, Lewis came back to Britain to turn professional, he and his mentor parted company. Under Arnie Boehm's tutelage, Lewis had scored 95 wins and suffered nine defeats.

      Although Boehm had taken over the Kitchener boxing academy in 1981, in 1985 it was forced to close after the withdrawal of government funds. Because of his preoccupation with boxing, he had already lost his job with the electricity company, and had earned a living as a self-employed lineman. The academy re-opened in 1986, and after numerous relocations including in a church basement and at the back of an industrial piping business - it can now be found in a mall off Kitchener's King Street East. Boehm continued in his role as the wise man of Canadian boxing. As well as Lewis, he has helped to nurture the likes of Fitzroy and Syd Vanderpool, Chris and Greg Johnson, Donny Lalonde and Art Binkowski.

      He continued to follow his most famous protégé's career in latter years, and Lewis did not forget him either. Every time Lewis fought, Boehm was sent first-class airline tickets to the encounter, and a limousine would meet him at the airport to deliver him to a five-star hotel. He was at the ringside in Memphis in June when Lewis knocked out Tyson to retain the world heavyweight championship. Giving credit to the progress Lewis had made in his professional career, Boehm said that night: "I just feel tonight that I've reached my crowning achievement."
      He is survived by his wife Verna and two daughters and two sons. A daugther predeceased him.

      The London Times October 11, 2002

  • Sources 
    1. [S292] Cemetery - ON, Waterloo, Woolwich - Memory Gardens CC#5464 Cemetery Internet Link.
      Together forever/ BOEHM/ Arnold P./ 1983 - / Verna V./ 1932 \endash 2001.

    2. [S220] Waterloo Region Hall of Fame Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 13 Aug 1933 - Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 9 Oct 2002 - Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsHall of Fame - Waterloo Region - Bef 2012 - , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Memory Gardens Cemetery, Breslau, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth