Joe Louis was born in Alabama on May 13, 1914. He was the son of an Alabama sharecropper, the great grandson of a slave, and the great great grandson of a white slave owner.
He moved to Detroit as a youngster with his mother. He was the first African American ever to achieve lasting fame and star status in the 20th Century. He did so with boxing, he would capture the hearts of millions of American’s, both white and black.
This was a time when blacks were being discriminated against, the military was segregated, blacks were not allowed to play Major League Baseball. When he started boxing early in the 1930’s hero worship was not achievable in any professional sports, there were none that were able to command the attention away from whites, however that would all change. Joe Louis began his boxing career at the Brewster Recreation Center. In his first amateur bout, Louis was knocked down 7 times, but he rapidly improved over the years, he captured the 1934 National AAU Lightweight Crown and turned to the professional level later in that same year.
Louis won his first 27 fights, 23 of them by knockout, beating people of fame like Primo Carnera and Max Baer. His first defeat was against Max Scheming at Yankee Stadium, he was knocked out in the 12th round. This was Louis greatest defeat, and the start of his greatest challenge.The next few years would be the greatest of times for the ” Brown Bomber “, he got his much anticipated rematch with Max Scheming.
The thing about Max Scheming was that he was German, so therefore, he was portrayed as a Nazi, and was personally visited in the locker room before the match by the man of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler. Louis’ war-time patriotism in a racially divided country made him a symbol of national unity and purpose. Twice he donated his winnings to the military relief funds. He advertised himself even more tot he American Public when he said the U.S. would win World War 2 ” because we’re on God’s side”. In front of 70,000 screaming fans at Yankee Stadium, Louis pulverized the Aryan figurehead, knocking him to the floor 3 times.
Two years of waiting ended in a quick 124 second knockout of Scheming Due to that fight, Louis had crossed the line from champion to idol as Americans of all color and race celebrated frantically. In 1942 he would join the U.S. Army, during the hard times of World War 2. During this time he fought close to 100 exhibitions before some 2 million servicemen. After the war, he knocked out Billy Conn again, and won three other fights, including two with Jersey Joe Walcott, before abdicating his title, and retiring.
However, because he needed money to pay back taxes, he returned to boxing. After not fighting for two years, he lost a one sided-decision to his successor as champ, Ezzard Charles, in 1950. He then retired for good when Rocky Marciano knocked him out in the eighth round in 1951.
Louis’ boxing career earned him close to 5 million dollars, but most of his money was lost due to his extreme generosity. The IRS, however, did not believe in such generosity and demanded a reported 1.2 million dollars back in taxes, interest and penalties, and he suffered the public humiliation of competing as a pro wrestler to help pay off some of his debts. Following several stays in hospitals, due to some drug addictions and paranoia, he became an “official greeter” at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.He then suffered from severe heart problems, and died of a heart attack at 66 on April 12, 1981 in Las Vegas. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetary at the request of President Ronald Reagan.
Joe Louis was a great man, through his boxing and dedication to his country he showed to all Americans, both black and white, that no matter who he was, or what he looked like, he was going to fight for his country. His fight with Scheming ( or fight with Germany ) was the apodeme of his patriotism and his will to make his country proud of him. Joe Louis is a hero, in boxing and most definitely in life.Words/ Pages : 738 / 24