|Great boxing shot|
Fighting from the get-go as a heavyweight Joe Louis quickly established himself as a force in boxing, though racial prejudice worked against his pursuit of the title. His first significant victory was in June 1935 over the hulking former champion Primo Carnera. Three months later he defeated former champ Max Baer (who had lost his title to James ‘Cinderella Man’ Braddock in June 1935), establishing himself as the number one heavyweight contender. With a record of 27-0 Louis sought to prime himself for the title shot with a tune up fight in June 1936 against aging former champion Max Schmeling. But Louis trained poorly for the fight and he was knocked out by Schmeling in twelve rounds.
It seemed as if Joe Louis had lost his shot at the title. But a combination of boxing politics and growing antipathy toward Germans (as represented by Schmeling) played in Louis’ favor and he was eventually given a shot at the title now held by Braddock. On June 22, 1937, the two fought; while Braddock knocked Louis down in the first round Louis eventually overpowered the older Braddock and won in an eight round knockout becoming World Heavyweight Champion.
|Love this war poster!|
By the time he left the service Joe Louis’ skills had begun to erode due to the sheer volume of fights in his amateur, pro and exhibition career. He was also severely in debt due to mismanagement of his earnings. Though he was still World Heavyweight Champion, the waning years of his career were largely spent fighting to stave off bankruptcy. After defeating Jersey Joe Walcott in two controversial fights Louis retired from boxing at the age of 35 in 1949. Due to his financial difficulties he was forced to come out of retirement in 1950 and fight for the title he vacated a little over a year earlier. He lost to Ezzard Charles and then was knocked out a year later by Rocky Marciano, ending his competitive boxing career. His professional record was 69-3 with 57 knockouts.
|Remarkable photo of Rocky Marciano's knockout|
of Joe Louis - effectively ending the
Brown Bomber's career
I had the chance to visit Louis’ grave with my son Grant and nephew Craig as we were driving down to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving. Interestingly Joe Louis is buried to another celebrity soldier, the actor Lee Marvin.
|Very cool sculpture of Joe Louis'|
fist in Detroit
|Me and my son Grant at Joe Louis' grave|
at Arlington Cemetery