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This date in 1914 marks Joe Louis’ birthday. He was a Black boxer.
He was born Joseph Louis Barrow on a sharecropper's farm near Lafayette, AL, in 1914. At the age of ten, his family migrated to Detroit. Louis won his first professional fight by a knockout in 1934. He won the professional heavyweight championship of the world three years later, defeating American boxer James Jack Braddock by a knockout. During his professional boxing career, Louis compiled 68 victories and three defeats.
His 68 victories included 54 by knockout. Louis's first loss came at Yankee Stadium in 1936 to the former world champion, German boxer Max Schmeling. The Nazis equated Schmeling's victory over Louis to the validation of Nazi superiority over democracy. The two boxers fought again in a 1938 rematch. Louis won the bout in one round, and Americans celebrated the victory of democracy. Louis gave up his title to serve in the army during WW II and continued boxing after his discharge.
His first fight was with Billy Conn, and he used the phrase "he can run but he cannot hide" in preparation for the fight. In front of 45,266 spectators in Yankee Stadium and thousands more tuning into NBC for the first heavyweight title bout broadcast on TV, Louis squared off against Billy Conn for the sequel to the pair’s 1941 fight. Like that night, the Brown Bomber knocked out Bold Billy, this time doing it two minutes and 19 seconds into the eighth round instead of the 13th.
Louis retired in 1949, having successfully defended his title 25 times. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions who has ever lived. In 1951, plagued by debts, Louis tried to make a comeback. He lost to Ezzard Charles on a decision after a 15-round bout. In October 1951, Louis was knocked out in the eighth round in about with Rocky Marciano, after which Louis retired for good from boxing. He was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954. Joe Louis, one of the greatest boxers in American history, died in 1981.
Boxing Album: An Illustrated History
by Peter Brooke Bell
Smithmark Publisher, 1995