Joe Louis epitomized the American Dream. From the red dirt floor of a share croppers shack to center ring at the Madison Square gardens his is a unique story of rags to riches. At the height of his international celebrity, Louis gave it all up for a Private’s rank and pay forcing his nation to decide if it carried more hatred or patriot pride.
A. Hasan Davis
Known by many as the "Brown Bomber," Joe Louis burst onto the professional boxing scene in 1934 with style and skill such as the boxing world has seldom seen.
Joe Louis Barrow was born on May 13, 1914. His father, "Mun Barrow," was a cotton picker from Alabama and his family fought with poverty for most of his childhood. His family moved to Detroit in 1924, at which point Joe first became involved in boxing.
Ten years after ariving in Detroit, Louis won the Golden Gloves. Following this win, Louis turned professional and won twelve contests within the first year.The first few years of Louis' pro career involved a steady ascension up the pyramid of the Heavyweight class.
Joe Louis was seemingly invincible, until his meeting with Max Schmeling on June 19, 1936. Schmeling was the underdog but, to the surprise of all, gave Louis a defeat that would continue to sting long after the cuts had healed. Louis was counted out in the 12th round of this lengthy fight and suffered the first and most painful defeat of his boxing career.
In 1937, Louis captured the heavyweight title of the world by knocking Braddock out. After this victory, Louis stated, "I don't want nobody to call me champ until I beat Schmeling." On June 22, 1938, Louis once again took on Schmeling. This time around, Louis knocked Schmeling out and captured the admiration of countless Americans. Louis gained a moral victory for himself and for his country, and simultaneously struck a damaging blow to Hitler and his pretentious beliefs.
In 1942, Joe Louis began a period of service in the Army. It would be four years before Louis again returned to the ring. Between 1946 and 1949, Louis flawlessly defended his title four times, including two victorious fights against 'Jersey' Joe Walcott.
Louis retired in 1949, still the undefeated heavyweight champ. Succumbing to financial pressures and government debts, Louis was forced back into the ring. In 1950, he attempted to recapture his title but was handed a loss. In 1951, in unsuccessful return to the ring, Marciano knocked Louis through the ropes in the 8th round. This was Joe Louis' final time in the ring. Louis had earned $5 million in his illustrious boxing career. But at 37, Joe Louis had not a single cent to show for it. To support himself, Louis decided to make a living as a Las Vegas casino host.