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Wed, 06.22.1938

Joe Louis Retains his Boxing Title Against Max Schmeling

Louis vs Schmeling (1938)

On this date in 1938, Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling in a rematch of an earlier fight that Louis had lost.

When "The Brown Bomber" avenged his loss with the white-German boxer, viewed as a Nazi symbol of an alleged "superior race," the entire country celebrated, not just Blacks but many whites too.  Joe Louis (pictured in the far left corner) floored Schmeling three times, winning their much-publicized rematch at Yankee Stadium in the first round.

Louis's war-time patriotism in a racially divided country made him a symbol of national unity and purpose.  Twice he donated his purse to military relief funds.  This dedication to humanity came before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball and at a time when Black children could not attend American public schools and Black adults were excluded from comparable employment to whites and Black families could not live where they chose.

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