Name: Levi Forte
Birthplace: Gadsden, Alabama, USA
Hometown: Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Height: 6′ 1″ / 185cm
Boxing Record: click
Levi Forte was a colorful and exciting heavyweight trail-horse, who was a fan favorite on Miami Beach during the 1960s.
Forte begin his career as a lanky 168 pounder and grew to the heavyweight ranks. Forte was a good boxer with a sturdy jab, but lacked knockout power. He won the Florida State Heavyweight Title from Ollie Wilson and successfully defended it, until Big Al Jones took it from him.
Forte made good copy for the local Miami newspapers and television news shows. He was a bellman at the famed Fontainbleu Hotel on Miami Beach. Forte was known as " The Battlin Bellman ", but, his greatest claim to fame was working as a sparring partner for 3-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali; he also trained with champions Sonny Liston, Willie Pastrano, and Jimmy Ellis.
Against former 2-time heavyweight king Floyd Patterson, Forte was stopped in 2 rounds. However, he managed to avoid the knockout blows of George Foreman and became one of only three men to last the distance with Foreman in his prime.
During the early 1970s, Forte focused on his bellman career, and only fought now and then.
His lack of activity made it difficult for the Ring Record Book to keep track of all his fights. He fought in such locations as the Bahamas and Panama.
Forte worked as a sparring partner ith Muhammad Ali for severl years. In September 1975, Forte appeared on The Muhammad Ali Variety Hour to spar one round with Ali. Forte also had uncredited roles in two South Florida filmed motion pictures.
In 1977, Forte fought three bouts; losing a 10 round decision to Bert Perry and then coming back to decision Perry and Kato Paris. The winning streak earned him a fight with former heavyweight title challenger Joe (King) Roman.
On March 17, 1978, Forte fought Joe (King) Roman to a 10 round draw in Fort Lauderdale on Saint Patrick's Day.
Forte was honored as the number one Bellman in all of South Florida. In his 25-plus years at the Fontainbleu, Forte met the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jerry Lewis, and Jackie Mason. He was also good friends with former 2-time lightweight champion Beau Jack, who ran a shoe-shine business out of the hotel.
When former heavyweight champion George Foreman returned to the ring after a 10-year layoff, Forte went into training hoping for a rematch. However, the rematch was never arranged.
At age 58, Forte returned to the ring after an almost 20-year layoff and was defeated by 38-year-old club-fighter Isaac Poole at the Milander Auditorium in South Florida; Bill Connors was the referee. Mike Scionti, executive director of the Florida State Athletic Commission, said, regarding Forte's comeback, " I recommended that he didn't fight." And Levi Forte followed Scionti's advice and never fought again.
- Internet Movie Database.
- Miami Herald, December 6, 2003, Sports, page 2D: Ali Honored in Miami Beach.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 24, 1999: 58-YEAR-OLD LOSES PRO BOUT IN FLORIDA.
- Miami Herald, January 23, 1999, Sports, page 13D: 58 YEAR OLD FORTE LOSES BY DECISION.
- Miami Herald, January 22, 1999, Sports, page 4D: Tonight's Boxing Card.
- Miami Herald, August 28, 1990, Local, page 1B: AT 50, HE IS NOT TOO OLD TO HAVE A DREAM 'BATTLING BELLMAN' TRIES TO MAKE IT AGAIN IN THE RING.
- Miami Herald, April 19, 1990, Local, page 1B: BOXER BECOMES NO.1 BELLMAN.
- Sun-Sentinel, April 15, 1990, Features Lifestyle, page 1E: BELLMAN OF THE YEAR by T.M. Shine, Staff Writer.