Joe Louis


Joe Louis was born into a poverty-stricken family in the Deep South cotton fields in Lafayette, Alabama, on May 13th 1914. His family moved north to Detroit and it was here the youngster would learn to box with money his Mum had given to him for violin lessons. In 1934, he won the Golden Gloves award in the light-heavyweight division, in the same year turned professional winning twelve contests within the year.

Astonishingly Louis was in the ring with Primo Carnera little over a year after turning professional, Carnera had only just lost his Heavyweight crown the previous year to Max Baer. The bout was in the Yankee Stadium before an attendance of 62,356, Carnera lasted just three rounds. Max Baer himself had since lost the title, paving the road for Louis to add another impressive scalp to his record. With this, Louis had his reputation travel far and wide and a crack at the title looked inevitable, but first he was faced with yet another former champion. Many thought the meeting with Max Schmeling in 1936, was a formality especially after the way Louis had disposed of two previous champions. The German handed Louis his first defeat dropping him in the fourth and again in the twelfth were the young prospect was counted out. Stunning the world and in particular black America for whom Louis carried the hopes and dreams.

Heavyweight Bout, June 19th, 1936 Max Schmeling vs Joe Louis

Louis (the brown bomber) put the defeat down to experience and was soon back in the ring winning with regularity. It was obvious now that Schmeling was ahead of Louis in the pecking order for a shot at the title, However, on this occasion prejudice would work in his favour, Schmeling was from Germany, the native land of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime. Schmeling despised the regime; nevertheless, his roots caused him what most believed would have been a second term as Heavyweight Champion.

The Rematch Heavyweight Bout, June 22nd, 1938 Max Schmeling vs Joe Louis

Joe Louis captured the heavyweight crown in 1937, when he knocked out James J. Braddock in eight rounds. He made twenty-one successful defences till he joined the US Army as a physical instructor in 1942, still the champion he returned to the ring in 1946 and went on to defend his title four more times before announcing his retirement in 1949. Financial imperatives forced him out of retirement and he challenged for the title a year later against Ezzard Charles, who won on points. The Brown Bomber fought his last fight in 1951 against the up and coming Rocky Marciano, Louis was the inspiration that led Marciano to take up the sport, nevertheless Marciano was en-route to a title shot and stopped Louis in the eighth. It was reported many in attendance had a tear in their eye on the night; including Marciano.

Joe Louis set records that stand to this day. He reigned as heavyweight champion for eleven years and eight months, the longest any champion has reigned in any division; he also successfully defended his title on twenty-five occasions.

In retrospect all these achievements came at a time in America when racism was rife and many black Americans lived in segregation. Before Louis, numerous talented black fighters where denied a title shot in favour of less-gifted fighters, sickeningly because they were politically more acceptable. Louis began to crack the system he showed a black man could win the world title and could compete on equal terms with dignity and hold himself admiringly.

When Joe Louis died on April 12th 1981, the American Government had him buried in Arlington National Cemetery, which is reserved for American heroes.

Joe Louis Professional Record: Pro Rec 68-3 (54)

4-Jul Jack Kracken W KO 1 Chicago, Illinois
12-Jul Willie Davies W KO 3 Chicago, Illinois
30-Jul Larry Udell W TKO 2 Chicago, Illinois
13-Aug Jack Kranz W 8 Chicago, Illinois
27-Aug Buck Everett W KO 2 Chicago, Illinois
11-Sept Al Delaney W TKO 4 Detroit, Michigan
26-Sept Adolph Wiater W 10 Chicago, Illinois
24-Oct Art Sykes W KO 8 Chicago, Illinois
31-Oct Jack O'Dowd W KO 2 Detroit, Michigan
14-Nov Stanley Poreda W KO 1 Chicago, Illinois
30-Nov Charley Massera W KO 3 Chicago, Illinois
14-Dec Lee Ramage W TKO 8 Chicago, Illinois
1-Jan Patsy Perroni W 10 Detroit, Michigan
11-Jan Hans Birkie W TKO 10 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
21-Feb Lee Ramage W TKO 2 Los Angeles, CA
8-Mar Don Red Barry W TKO 3 San Francisco, CA
29-Mar Natie Brown W 10 Detroit, Michigan
12-Apr Roy Lazer W KO 3 Chicago, Illinois
22-Apr Biff Bennett W KO 1 Dayton, Ohio
25-Jun Primo Carnera W TKO 6 New York, NY
7-Aug King Levinsky W TKO 1 Chicago, Illinois
24-Sept Max Baer W KO 4 New York, NY
13-Dec Paulino Uzcudun W TKO 4 MSG, New York, NY
17-Jan Charley Retzlaff W KO 1 Chicago, Illinois
19-Jun Max Schmeling L KO 12 New York, NY
18-Aug Jack Sharkery W KO 3 New York, NY
22-Sept Al Ettore W KO 5 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
9-Oct Jorge Brescia W KO 3 New York, NY
14-Dec Eddie Simms W TKO 1 Cleveland, Ohio
11-Jan Steve Ketchel W KO 2 Buffalo, New York
29-Jan Bob Pastor W 10 MSG, New York, NY
17-Feb Natie Brown W KO 4 Kansas City, Missouri
22-Jun Jim Braddock W KO 8 Chicago, Illinois
30-Aug Tommy Far W 15 New York, NY
23-Feb Nathan Mann W KO 3 MSG, New York, NY
1-Apr Harry Thomas W KO 5 Chicago, Illinois
22-Jun Max Schmeling W KO 1 New York, NY
25-Jan John Henry Lewis W KO 1 MSG, New York, NY
17-Apr Jack Roper W KO 1 Los Angeles, CA
28-Jun Tony Galento W TKO 4 New York, NY
20-Sept Bob Pastor W KO 11 Detroit, Michigan
9-Feb Arturo Godoy W 15 MSG, New York, NY
29-Mar Johnny Paychek W TKO 2 MSG, New York, NY
20-Jun Arturo Godoy W TKO 8 New York, NY
16-Dec Al McCoy W YKO 6 Boston, Massachusetts
31-Jan Red Burman W KO 5 MSG, New York, NY
17-Feb Gus Dorazio W KO 2 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
21-Mar Abe Simon W TKO 13 MSG, New York, NY
8-Apr Tony Musto W TKO 9 Saint Louis, Missouri
23-May Buddy Baer W DQ 7 Washington DC
18-Jun Billy Conn W KO 13 New York, NY
29-Sept Lou Nova W TKO 6 New York, NY
9-Jan Buddy Baer W KO 1 MSG, New York, NY
27-Mar Abe Simon W TKO 6 MSG, New York, NY
14-Nov Johnny Davis W KO 1 Buffalo, New York
19-Jun Billy Conn W KO 8 New York, NY
18-Sept Tami Mauriello W KO 1 New York, NY
5-Dec Jersey Joe Walcott W 15 MSG, New York, NY
25-Jun Jersey Joe Walcott W KO11 New York, NY
27-Sept Ezzard Charles L 15 New York, NY
29-Nov Cesar Brion W 10 Chicago, Illinois
3-Jan Freddie Beshore W TKO 4 Detroit, Michigan
7-Feb Omelio Agramonte W 10 Miami, Florida
23-Feb Andy Walker W TKO 10 San Francisco, CA
2-May Omelio Agramonte W 10 Detroit, Michigan
15-Jun Lee Savold W KO 6 MSG, New York, NY
1-Aug Cesar Brion W 10 San Francisco, CA
15-Aug Jimmy Bivins W 10 Baltimore, Maryland
26-Oct Rocky Marciano L TKO 8 MSG, New York, NY