LEW SKYMER was born Louis A. Skymer on August 21, 1906 in Lycoming County PA, to Thomas A. and Mary Skymer. Both he and his young brother Thomas J. "Tommy" Skymer were talented boxers in the Camden area Golden Gloves amateur circuit in the 1920s and 1930s, the same circuit that had sent Camden boxer Leon Lucas to the Olympics in 1928. Lew Skymer had turned professional by 1926, and fought at least twice, both in that year, in the featherweight division. His one known loss that year listed at the Internet Boxing Records Archive was to Johnny Jadick, who would go on to become World Junior Welterweight champion in 1932. He also fought as a junior lightweight and lightweight. Lew Skymer would retire with a record of 49 wins against only 6 defeats, his only known (to this writer) defeat the 1928 loss to Jadick.
The Skymer family moved to Camden in 1912. Thomas A. Skymer worked as a laborer for a few years, and the family lived in the unit block of South 2nd Street. In 1916 Thomas A. Skymer moved his family to 330 Mickle Street, which had been the home of famous 19th Century architect Stephen Decatur Button, and was next door to the home of the late poet Walt Whitman. Shortly after the January 1920 Census the Skymer family moved again, to 1309 Broadway in Camden, where Thomas A. Skymer had opened an auto supply business. The 1930 Census lists Lew Skymer's occupation as machinist, while brother Tommy was a painter for a sign company. A third brother, Albert, was also doing factory work.
In 1928 Lew Skymer was forced to stop boxing due to a cataract in his left eye. The cataract was removed, and he was advised never to box again. Ignoring medical advice, he fought three times in 1931, before again being force to stop due to an eye injury. This time he had suffered a detached retina in his left eye, and the eye had to be removed to save the vision in his right eye. This stopped his active career, although he remained involved in the fight game for decades afterwards.
By 1947, married and with his boxing days were long behind him, Lew Skymer was still living at 1309 Broadway in Camden with his wife Vera. He was still operating the family business, by the known as Skymer's Tire Service there, his father having retired in 1941. Lew Skymer was still living on Broadway as late as 1959. In later years he closed the tire business and operated a laundry on the premises.
Lew Skymer kept his interest in boxing, and was a member of the Veterans Boxing Association Ring No. 6, based in Camden, and was involved in planning and producing the annual banquet which that group held.
Lew and Vera Skymer moved to 1752 West River Drive in Pennsauken NJ in the 1960s, a home that had been previously lived in by Maurice A. Wolfe Jr., who was killed in action while serving with the Navy during World War II. Lew Skymer remained a Pennsauken resident for the rest of his years. His mother, Mary Skymer lived with him in her later years, passing in March of 1975.
Lewis Skymer passed away on October of 1980, survived by a son, Lewis Jr., his brothers Albert and Thomas, and sister-in-law Josephine "Jo" Skymer. The Jo Skymer Lighting business was established in 1950, and has been selling lamps and chandeliers on Crescent Boulevard, near the Airport Circle since 1965. Jo Skymer Lighting is still in business as of the summer of 2003.
On May 10, 1981 Lew Skymer was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame, at a banquet held at Palumbo's, in South Philadelphia.
Junior High School
"9AS Graduating Class"
Click on Image to Enlarge
September 21, 1924
Click on Image for PDF
September 21, 1924
Hindle - Jackie
Delmont - Lew
Mussey Shinn - Chic
Emmons - Kid
Wallace - Joey
Harry Larson - Ted Sanborne - Buddy Ferguson - Tommy Cooney - Newton A.K. Bugbee
Click on Image for PDF File of Complete Article
Camden Courier-Post - April 5, 1951
of One Eye No Handicap to Ex-boxer Lew Skymer
John L. Davis, fourth ranking lightweight, the other day announced his retirement form the ring because he feared the loss of his vision.
Last December, George "Sugar" Costner, formerly of Cincinnati, but now of Camden, was barred from boxing because of a detached retina in his right eye. Davis also has a detached retina in one of his eyes.
Davis is only 24 years old and Costner is 28. Both were nearing the championship in the lightweight and welterweight divisions when they were forced to quit the ring.
Their plight calls to mind the same misfortune which overtook Lew Skymer, former Camden lightweight who now is a prominent business man.
Lew was only 22 when he was forced to stop boxing becasue if a detached retina. He later had to have his eye removed to save the sight of his other eye.
We happened to talk with Lew the day after Davis announced his retirement and we naturally got on the subject of boxing, and Lew, who isn't embarrassed to talk about his misfortune, said:
Of course, it's a tough break for anyone to lose even a part of their vision, but I think Davis and Costner don't want sympathy.
I know I didn't when I lost my left eye because I refused tot follow the instructions of an eye specialist. I wasn't sore at the world when I lost an eye through boxing as I enjoyed every minute I spent in the ring.
I feel the loss of one eye hasn't handicapped me. I still can do everything I used to do except box and I'm too old for that now.
And I don't think it will handicap Davis or Costner either if they still retain their vision in one eye.
They had to have courage when they were in the fight game and courage should carry them through the years of their lives even though they are a bit handicapped.
My trouble started when a cataract developed on my left eye. I had the cataract removed and was told not to box again as it might result in a permanent injury and the loss of vision in that eye. That was in 1928. I fought three fight is 1931, meeting Joe Ryan Sr., Tommy Cormey, and Rusty Leroy. My left eye was bloody after the Leroy fight, but I didn't realize I had suffered a hemorrhage.
It became steadily worse until I knew I had to do something about it. So I underwent another operation and was told I had a detached retina in my left eye, and that the eye would have to be removed to save the sight in my other eye.
The doctor's diagnosis frightened me, but I knew I had to go through with the operation as the eye was about useless at that time.
So the eye was removed in the latter part of 1931 and ever since I've been wearing an artificial eye.
Only about six of my intimate friends, including you, ever knew I had an artificial eye and you know I've never been embarrassed to talk about it with you or any of my other friends.
Even my parents to this day didn't know about it, but of course they'll know about it now and I'm relieved to think it won't hurt them like it would have if they'd known about it at the time it happened.
I didn't tell them about it because I knew it would worry them, but the shock won't be sop great now.
And I haven't thought about it much for years, but I still read all the fight news and of course I read about the Davis and Costner cases.
I know how they fell right now as I've experienced what they are going through I didn't have as much at stake as those two as they were nearing the championships in their divisions.
But I know they'll snap out of it just as I did.
What they need is a steady job to take their minds off their troubles. I know the two fellows like boxing, and so did I. Even after they eye was removed I took two chances boxing exhibition bouts. I boxed Johnny Lucas and Battling Mack and wasn't any the worse for it.
But that was the last time I drew on a glove although I still like boxing better than any other sport.
I used to think that if we had more rigid physical examinations in my days perhaps I wouldn't have suffered a detached retina.
Now I know better. With this Davis and Costner both suffering the same eye injury which I suffered over 20 years ago proves that it can happen even in these days of rigid examinations.
But if these fellows are like I was when it happened to me, they don't want any sympathy. all they wan to do is to make a living like any other person.
I knew it was my own fault when it happened to me. I had been warned beforehand, yet I liked boxing so much that I went on fighting, and it wasn't becasue I needed the money.
My father had a good business, and I didn't need to box. But you'll remember that dozens of Camden kids were boxing in those days, and I wanted to be in the swim.
After I started, I knew it was a game I liked, although I never was particularly bloodthirsty. But it got me like it got many others and if I had my life to live over I'd do the same thing.
It must be tougher on Davis and Costner than it was on me as both those boys were close to the top when they were forced to stop boxing.
But I believe they would rather have what eyesight they have left than be a blind ex-champion. At least that's the way I felt about it" concluded Skymer.
Lew was a smart boxer who never was a dynamite puncher. But he won 49 out of 55 fights and still had a brilliant career ahead of him when he was forced to quit.
Older boxing fans will recall his fights against Johnny DeMarco, Artie McCann, Chick Kansik, Jackie Hindle, and Lou Mayers.
Lew was a nice kid when he was boxing. He hasn't changed over the years. He's still an affable chap who has a ready smile and who still doesn't want any sympathy.
He wouldn't have missed boxing even though it cost him an eye. He hopes both Davis and Costner feel the same way about the matter.
Camden Courier-Post - August 6, 1951
Ring 6 Committee Meets Tonight
The committee on arrangements for the third annual picnic and field day to be held by Ring No. 6, VBA, will hold a meeting tonight, at 220 Cooper Street, starting at 8 o'clock.
Lew Skymer and Jo Spearing co-chairmen, request the presence of all members of the committee, which includes Vic Righter, Ed Adams, Frankie Youker, Larry Hildebrand, Frank DiSalvio, A. Gartland, Bob Kavanaugh, Tom Reitzes, Patsy Carlo, Peewee Ross, Al Ambrosino.
Also W. DiPaolo, K.O. Riley, John Knowles, Tommie Saul, Eddie Chaney, Bobby Zimmer, Tony Tilman, Tommy Carr, George Ealer, and William Jeffries.
Kenney's Suburban House
February 27, 1960
This appears to be from a Veteran's Boxing Association Ring No. 6 Banquet.
At far right, seated, is Arnold "Jersey Joe Walcott" Cream, standing behind him wearing glasses is Neil McLaughlin.
On the left side of the table, unknown, Tommy Skymer, Lew Skymer, unknown, and Les Cranmer.
Jersey Joe Walcott
I grew up at 543 Mechanic Street, just around the corner from Lew. His son Lew Jr. "Brubby" Skymer and I grew up together and Lew taught us to box. This came in handy since both of us became police officers! When I was growing up Lew operated a laundry at the address on Broadway and the family lived upstairs. He had rows of machines in the store and he had an employee who would operate them, no self-service.
I left Camden in 1967 when I got drafted into the Army, but I believe the laundry was still in operation at that time.
Andy Tally, February 2004
Association Ring One Banquet
Lew Skymer, one of our inductees in The Boxing Hall of Fame, was born in Williamsport PA, later he and his family moved to Philadelphia. After a few years in South Philly, they finally moved across the river in Camden. Incidentally, they were the last family to live in the home of the famous poet Walt Whitman, before the home was taken over by the Historical Society of New Jersey.*
Lew Was a great prospect. He had a good winning record against some outstanding fighters including Johnny Jadick, George Amblard, the French lightweight champion, Hubert Gillis champion of Belgium, Mickey Blair, Roxie Allen, Jackie Hindle, Joe Wilton, Ernie Glaser and many other good young boxers of that period.
Poor eyesight forced his premature retirement at the early age of 21.
However, boxing was not the only reason for the committee to select Lew Skymer to the Hall of Fame, character and class were.
*This is a great story, but not supported by documentary evidence. The Skymer family DID live next door, at 330 Mickle Street, home of architect Stephen Decatur Button.
Lew Skymer is fondly remembered by Bob Lucas, of Donkey's Place, 1223 Haddon Avenue in Camden NJ; and Andy Tally, who grew up at 543 Mechanic Street in the 50s and 60s.
Thanks to Jo Ann Skymer Hirsch for her help in creating this page, and for providing images seen here.
RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE